Messi Calls for Action to to End Infant Mortality

He may be one of the greatest soccer players in the world…But Lionel Messi is still a human with a big heart…

The 25-year-old Argentine fútbol star, the holder of the new record for most goals in a calendar year, is calling for action to end infant mortality.

Lionel Messi

Messi, the Futbol Club Barcelona striker, made that appeal in a video this week for the UN Children’s Fund.

Messi, who became a father for the first time this year, said in the UNICEF video that while the number of infant deaths fell from nearly 12 million in 1990 to around 6.9 million last year, “those boys and girls did not have to die, but they died.”

Despite advances, some 19,000 children worldwide under 5 die every day from preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition, accoriding to UNICEF.

Predicted to receive a record  fourth Ballon d’Or as the world’s top soccer player next month, Messi became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF in March 2010 and has become an outspoken advocate for the most vulnerable children.