david-james-strictly

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.

david-james-strictly2

The time was finally right for David

GALLERY: See inside the Strictly professional dancers' houses

"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."

MORE: Strictly's Motsi Mabuse insists she will judge sister Oti fairly

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Activate HELLO! alerts and find out about everything before anyone else.