Simone Farina has been recognised internationally for the moral courage he displayed when offered a substantial bribe to fix the outcome of an Italian Cup game in November 2011.
Cesare Prandelli, the Italy coach, called him up to the national squad as a reward for his role in exposing the attempted deception, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon emphasised that Farina's "positive example should not be forgotten" and FIFA president Sepp Blatter invited him on-stage as guest of honour at the Ballon d'Or ceremony in May 2012, describing him as a role model for young people and naming him as a FIFA Ambassador for fair play.
Now the 30-year-old native of Rome is continuing to uphold the values he believes to be an essential element of the game by passing on his experience in his work as a community coach at Villa.
Farina has been at the club since mid-September and has already completed the Level One Award in Coaching Football to become an FA qualified coach.
Longstanding links between INTERPOL - who investigated the match-fixing scandal in Italy and awarded Farina a Commemorative Medal for his contribution to crime prevention and law enforcement - and Villa led to Farina taking up this opportunity, one which the former Roma youth player has embraced with characteristic enthusiasm.
"For me, working with children makes me very happy and I am delighted to be working with Villa to help to develop young players of the future in our community programme," Farina said.
"I wanted to move on with my life. Now I feel that I have real purpose again because of the support and opportunity Villa have given me.
"Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner have been fantastic and already I feel I am part of the Villa family, especially with the way the club and the community have embraced me.
"I have learnt a lot from the other coaches here and I am trying to give my experience to the children. I am also learning from them because the atmosphere they generate is very positive.
"I know I did the right thing when I refused to get involved in the fixing of a football game. I went to the authorities because this corruption had to be brought to the surface. This level of deception has no place in football or in any walk of life.
"The opportunity here at Villa is perfect for me. It is also very satisfying to see the technical development of the children and their enjoyment of the game. This is what the game is all about really.
"I feel very happy in the Birmingham area as the people here have been great and my family are very happy, too. This is important to me, of course.
"But it is also important to me that I continue to work in football and that I am able to pass on my knowledge because football is an inspirational game.
"A year ago I did not see my life moving in this direction but I am really delighted to be able now to contribute in this way."
Villa's community coaching programme maintains close links with the academy which is recognised as one of the foremost in the country and has produced 13 international players since the FA introduced the current academy system in 1998.
Farina is involved in specialist sessions for children aged between five and twelve years old, with these sessions also being used to identify talented players who may be invited to the player development centre at Villa Park.
Coaches at the development centre work with U8s, U9s, U10s, U11s and U12s.
The club also runs a development programme for children with special needs, including curriculum, after-school and holiday courses.
"Ron Noble [Secretary General of INTERPOL] is a longstanding friend and colleague and he felt that Simone would be a good fit for Villa, that he had shown immense courage and integrity when confronted with a very difficult situation," said Villa chairman Randy Lerner.
"I'm really pleased that Simone has taken up this opportunity and that he has fit in quickly and so well with our community coaching programme."
Noble has welcomed as a positive development the appointment of Farina by Villa.
"Simone Farina is a football defender both on and off the pitch," he said. "He showed integrity and courage by turning down and reporting to the police an attempted bribe to corrupt the outcome of a match. He needs to become just as important a role model for our youth like stars such as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Corruption in sport is a very complex problem for which there is no quick fix. In addition to strong enforcement efforts, all those linked to the 'beautiful game' must place a great emphasis on prevention.
"In this respect Simone Farina's appointment by Villa as a coach in its community outreach programme will allow him to continue to work to keep football clean. The Education and Prevention Initiative launched in 2011 is a key element in supporting the football community in its fight against match-fixing.
"We commend the entire Villa organisation, and especially its leadership, for placing such great emphasis on maintaining integrity in football by employing Simone, who is a shining star of integrity."
FIFA president Sepp Blatter added: "I was very pleased to see that a club like Villa have realised the value of having someone like Simone working in their youth and education programme.
"Such a move highlights the efforts to eradicate match-fixing from our sport, something which we are committed to achieving in partnership with organisations such as INTERPOL."
Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner believes Farina's experience, enthusiasm and integrity will underpin his coaching skills and add greatly to the overall work being done in the community by the club.
"Simone will bring a whole depth of experience to our community coaching programme, he has already integrated well into the good work of our other coaches and we're delighted as a club to have him here, carrying on an important role in the area of youth development," he said.
"With our strong academy and community programmes, we are carrying on a tradition of placing genuine value in what we do for the young people in our community. On Monday, for example, we will open up Villa Park for a first team training session which will be open to all and, with it being October half-term week in Birmingham, I'm sure we will have a lot of families in the stands to avail of this opportunity.
"The community coaching programme is an ongoing example and integral part of this commitment and Simone's qualities made his new role at the club an ideal fit."
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