David James reveals why he finally agreed to do Strictly – and what was holding him back

David was the first celebrity announced for this year's series

Jenni McKnight

David James is a well-known name in the sporting world having been a decorated goalkeeper for over two decades – but that doesn't mean he sees himself as a 'celebrity'. The 49-year-old confessed that he has turned down the chance to appear on Strictly several times because he didn't think he was famous enough. "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," he told HELLO! and other journalists ahead of Saturday's launch.

"There were other shows, actually most shows I turned down unless it was a charity show I wouldn't be interested in doing it," he added. But with a little persuasion from former contestant and swimmer Mark Foster, David turned a corner. "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.


The time was finally right for David

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"The key thing was that everybody involved is really lovely. And not in a Strictly way, we just really – they talk about the Strictly family so when I spoke to them, I said, 'do I have to slag anyone off?' And they said 'no it's not like that, we don't have a booth 'how are you getting on with so and so or David how are you getting on with so and so', so I thought actually no, the thing that's going to fail me in the show is me not being a good dancer, which is fine. And, day one: everything that everyone said about the show, has been true. Fantastic, great people and exciting."

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