PHNOM PENH — Italian World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro on Monday reassured Cambodia's diminutive players that size was no barrier to success.
"Size has never been a problem for me," Cannavaro, 38, told reporters in the capital Phnom Penh during a visit to boost the profile of the beautiful game in the Southeast Asian country, currently ranked 170th in the world by FIFA.
Asked his advice for Cambodian footballers who are often shorter than their rivals, Cannavaro, who at 1.76 metres (5 foot 9) is small for a defender, said it was a question of mentality rather than height.
"I was strong inside my head," the 2006 World Player of the Year said.
"Big or short, for me what was important was to win the game with my team. The dream when you start playing football is to win something special and we won something special."
Cannavaro retired last July following a nagging knee injury, but remains on the management staff with current club Al-Ahli in Dubai.
His four-day stay in Cambodia, which ends on Wednesday, will see him host coaching sessions with young local players and visit a charity to hand out football kits to street children.
Cannavaro started his career in 1992 with home club Naples, before moving to Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid, and then back to Juve for one season before joining Al-Ahli.
The pinnacle of his garlanded career was captaining Italy to victory over France in the 2006 World Cup final.
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