Strictly Come Dancing signs up Welwyn Garden City's David James
PUBLISHED: 10:43 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:51 08 August 2019
Welwyn Garden City's former England goalkeeper David James has signed up for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The former Watford, Liverpool and Portsmouth stopper was revealed as Strictly's first 2019 celebrity on The One Show last night (Wednesday) by hosts Matt Baker and Stacey Dooley, both ex-Strictly contestants themselves.
James, who celebrates his 49th birthday today (August 1), said: "I'm really excited to be on Strictly this year.
"Not just competing against this year's stars, but being compared to previous sport stars from previous Strictly seasons.
"I have some big shoes to fill, #LetsGetLive"
The 17th series of the NTA and BAFTA Award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios will return in the autumn on BBC One, putting the sparkle back into Saturday and Sunday nights.
Also confirmed so far for Strictly this year are comedian Chris Ramsey, EastEnders star Emma Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell in the BBC soap, and YouTuber Saffron Barker.
Actress Catherine Tyldesley, best known for playing Eva Price on the ITV soap Coronation Street from 2011 to 2018, has also been announced.
Speaking on The One Show, former Sir Frederic Osborn School pupil James said: "I've had to keep it a secret for so long."
He admitted he talked about it with Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, who appeared on Strictly in 2008.
"I've been asked to do this quite a number of times and every time I've said 'no'. It's not me, it's not my sort of thing.
"I had a chat with Foz and he went, 'it was an amazing show, it was an amazing experience'.
"And this time I said 'yes'."
The ex-England international will be following in the dance steps of Welwyn Garden City's Alesha Dixon and Lisa Snowdon, and Tewin's Jake Wood in appearing on the hit BBC One dance show.
Mis-Teeq singer Alesha Dixon took part in series five of Strictly in 2007, winning with professional dancer Matthew Cutler.
Alesha later joined the Strictly judging panel, and is now a judge on Simon Cowell's Britain's Got Talent.
Model, TV and radio presenter Lisa Snowdon reached the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2008 with pro partner Brendan Cole.
Jake Wood, who plays Max Branning in EastEnders, won the nickname 'Snake Hips Jake' after appearing on Strictly with Janette Manrara in 2014.
Starting his career at Watford, 6ft 4in goalkeeper David James went on to play for a number of clubs including Liverpool, where he lifted the League Cup in 1994-95, and Portsmouth, whom he helped to FA Cup success in 2007-08.
He played 214 league games for the Reds, and 277 matches in total for the club, before leaving Anfield to join Aston Villa in a £1.8million move in 1999.
His stay at Villa lasted for just two years and he joined London club West Ham United in 2001.
James also enjoyed spells with Manchester City and Portsmouth in the Premier League, and at Bristol City and Bournemouth.
He amassed 53 caps for his country over an international career spanning 13 years, and was first choice at Euro 2004 in Portugal and regained the number one jersey at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
On the domestic front, James held the Premier League record for the most clean sheets until Chelsea and Arsenal keeper Petr Cech beat his record.
James, who has worked as a football pundit for the BBC and BT Sport, was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to football and charity.
He played for Icelandic club IBV in 2013 and hung up his boots after finishing his career as player-manager of Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League.
Aside from football, James has modelled for Giorgio Armani and H&M.
He is also an avid artist, and was the illustrator for children's book Harry's Magic Pockets: The Circus.