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(photo credit: GPO)
Like many great athletes, Brazilian star soccer player Ronaldo has visited Israel on a sports-related peace mission in which Israeli and Palestinian youths play soccer with and against each other.
Now he's about to come again, at the invitation of President Shimon Peres who while in Sao Paulo last week presented him with the blue shirt of the Israeli national team.
Ronaldo, in return, presented Peres with a duplicate of his own Corinthians number nine shirt, with "SHIMON PERES" emblazoned across the back.
No date was announced for the impending Peres Center for Peace trip, which follows the visits to Ramallah and Herzliya in May 2005 the former Real Madrid striker made as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Program,
Ronaldo told Peres that his team is headquartered in a largely Jewish neighborhood in which he also lives, and said that Corinthians is strongly supported by the Jewish community.
Peres said the activities run by his center have a significant impact. "It's a war without bloodshed," he said of the games. "Everyone's playing; no-one is being killed."
He commended Ronaldo for working for the children, for peace and for the future. "No-one does it better than you," Peres declared.
Describing his first visit as a terrific experience, Ronaldo said he was looking forward to coming again.
Eyeing Peres as he held up the Corinthians shirt, Ronaldo said: "Only a crazy man like you would want to play for my team."
Peres urged him to come to Israel soon so that peace would come sooner. "I hope you can do the same for grown ups as you do for children" he said.