The Manchester City midfielder appeared on a platform alongside legendary Bulgaria star Hristo Stoichkov as the European Professional Football League highlighted their plan to tackle world poverty.

Although the aims are clearly laudable, they also leave Vieira open to the charge of meddling in subjects he has no concept of given his status as a wealthy player at the richest club in the most commercially successful league on the planet.

It is an allegation the one-time France international - who was born in Senegal - strenuously denies.

"People have the wrong idea of footballers," said Vieira, who was speaking at the annual Soccerex conference in Manchester.

"They have a conscience. They have a brain. They know what is going on around the world.

"We know there is a lot of money in football. We know we earn a lot of money. Whether we deserve it is a different debate.

"But if most of the players, the FA and the football authorities have committed themselves to the fight against hunger it is because we know what is going on and we know we can change things.

"That is why we are here today. We all want to win this fight.

"This fight is more important than a football game."

It was a view endorsed by Stoichkov, who recently visited Burkina Faso to see for himself the poverty that has to be endured in some parts of the world.

"I was poor as a child," said Stoichkov, who was born in Plovdiv but eventually became widely accepted as the finest Bulgarian player of all time due to his exploits at Barcelona.

"I will never forget that. That is why I can talk to people about this problem.

"When I went to Burkina Faso, I slept with the people. I was helping people. I was playing football in the soil, not on the grass. This is not a discovery for me. I know.

"Even if I have money now, my obligation is to ensure the people know I have not forgotten what happened before."