Former Pompey goalkeeper David James has revealed the reason why he finally agreed to join Strictly Come Dancing.
The 49-year-old had been asked to appear in the BBC One dancing show for years but has said he decided to give it a chance after a chat with former contestant Mark Foster.
James, who also played for Liverpool, Man City and West Ham during his career, will be partnering with Ukranian ballroom and Latin American pro Nadiya Bychkova for the 2019 edition.
Speaking to journalists ahead of Saturday’s launch show, the former England star said that he had been reluctant to sign up before because he did not think he was famous enough.
He said: ‘As an ex-footballer, I didn't feel I was a celebrity. But I was kind of trying to distance myself, I didn't want my football to be the reason why I was getting into things, so therefore I wasn't interested in many shows.’
But ex-Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, who took part in Strictly in 2008, persuaded him that the show focused on the dancing more than the profile of the contestants.
James said: ‘When Mark explained that wasn't the basis of the show, this it is a dancing show, yes of course celebrities are involved, but it's a dancing show, you learn new skills.’
James is not the first footballer to be on the show. Goalkeepers Peter Shilton and Peter Schmeichel, John Barnes and Robbie Savage have also stepped onto the Strictly dance floor.
Former Horndean Community School pupil and Eastenders actress Emma Barton is also one of the celebrities on this year’s show.
She will be partnering Strictly veteran Anton du Beke.
The main Strictly shows begin on Saturday September 21, with the final taking place in December.
Results will be announced during the Sunday show.