The Edit

Mathieu Flamini, climate champion

Belong to the legend
From the competitive mindset of a professional international footballer, meet the innovative environmental entrepreneur creating scientific breakthroughs in sustainability.

He’s known for his impressive international football career, but Mathieu Flamini’s commitment to tackling climate change looks set to be his true legacy. In the latest of our Belong to the Legend series, we reveal how Mathieu is becoming a game changer off the pitch.


Having grown up in Marseille, alongside the football-loving city’s beaches and the Mediterranean Sea, Mathieu has always had a strong passion and respect for the environment. At just five-years old he joined his local football club and later played for Marseille. As his career developed, he competed in international matches for France, and won the prestigious FA Cup three times with Arsenal. 

The pull of the sea

To cope with the pressures of being a high-profile sportsperson, Mathieu regularly returned to the sea to enjoy the serenity of nature. As a child he would often visit the beach with his father to collect plastic waste. This acute awareness of the effect humankind has on the world is deeply ingrained in him. It’s why he has developed a decidedly different career fighting for his beliefs and being determined to make a positive impact on climate change.

I’m a challenger. I like to fight. I like to stand up for something I believe is meaningful.

Mathieu Flamini

Inspired by sustainability

During his time at AC Milan football club, Mathieu and his friend, Pasquale Granata, began researching business opportunities around sustainability. In 2008, the daring duo founded GF Biochemicals with the mission to create more sustainable plant-based alternatives than the harmful petrochemicals found in millions of everyday products. Now, 15 years later, Mathieu is CEO of a billion-dollar company with five ground-breaking products and more than 150 patents.  

Forging a new path

Following 10 years of intense research, GF Biochemicals made a breakthrough when it became the first company to mass produce levulinic acid from agricultural waste, a molecule with the potential to replace oil in all sorts of applications, including fuel, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Transforming the oil industry is a daunting task for anyone, let alone a relative newcomer to both science and business, but Mathieu is not easily daunted. He believes that because humankind created the problem, we can sort it out. 

I'm trying to live a life with a purpose, a life standing up for a cause which is important to my heart. And this is, for me, is a meaningful life. The life I always wanted to live.

Mathieu Flamini

Determined to succeed

He claims his competitive footballer’s mindset has aided his crossover from athlete to entrepreneur. By learning how to face adversity he’s determined to look at life as a glass half-full not half-empty. Instead of pointing the finger of blame he prefers to empower people and make them part of the solution. Like football, he believes it's not about your individuality but about the combined power of the team.

There’s a palpable sense that Mathieu is flourishing because he’s completely aligned with his cause. Protecting the oceans, tackling climate change, and living well are his authentic passions. We wish him well in his worthy endeavours – he’s certainly one to watch.

Mathieu Flamini’s inspiring story is part of our Belong to the Legend series. Look out for more unique stories coming soon.