: Before the match in Bicesse: talking tactics with Thomas Helmer - Photo: GES-Sportfoto
Thomas Helmer, who during his football career won such honours as the European Cup with Germany in 1996 and the UEFA Cup with Bayern Munich in the same year, has been fulfilling the honorary role of "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages" ambassador for Germany since 1997.
Now, after retiring as a professional footballer, Helmer is still sticking close to both the sport and SOS Children's Villages. At the end of 2003, Helmer's website "Fussballprofis.de" joined forces with German mail order company, Otto-Versand, for an internet auction of a mini signed by footballers. Otto-Versand rounded the proceeds up to 20.000 EURO, which went to help SOS Children's Village St. Petersburg.
While working at Euro 2004 in Portugal as a presenter on German sports channel DSF, Thomas Helmer paid a visit to SOS Children's Village Bicesse shortly before the final.
The highpoint of the visit had to be the football match between an SOS Children's Village team and the German guests. Oliver Pocher, a presenter from rival German channel Pro7 also played. In keeping with European Cup tradition, the game was exciting right up to the final whistle and even had to be decided on penalties. In reality, though, there were only winners in this game
Thomas Helmer, Georg Willeit, Oliver Pocher (l to r) in Bicesse - Foto: GES-Sportfoto
The visit and match were obviously great fun for DSF-present Helmer and his team. "It was brilliant," said Helmer, who had had a look around the SOS Children's Village before the game. He was particularly impressed by the hospitality that was lavished upon him in Bicesse.
For the children it was of course an unforgettable experience, both for the players and for their supporters who were loudly spurring their team on from the sidelines. Georg Willeit, executive director of the German Promoting Association, SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit, thanked the German guests for their visit and the SOS Children's Village team for their enthusiasm: "In passion and commitment, this village team is on a par with the Portuguese national team."
In particular, Willeit praised Thomas Helmer's commitment, as did one of the spectators: "there's no more worthwhile way to spend your day off..."