David Beckham launches Unicef's 7 fund: 'My life has never been just about the football'
David Beckham has launched a new global project to help millions of children in danger.
Humanitarian charity Unicef's 7 fund - named after the former England footballer's favourite shirt number - will focus on seven countries where youngsters are at risk.
Beckham, 39, said: "My fame, my success that I had on the field, opens doors for exactly things like this - the protection of children, the protection of women."
He added: "My life has never been just about the football."
The project, entitled 7: The David Beckham Unicef Fund, marks Beckham's 10 years as a goodwill ambassador for the charity.
It will raise funds and campaign for change in seven countries: Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Djibouti, Serbia and Bangladesh.
Beckham told a press conference at Google's UK headquarters in central London that his global appeal has enabled him to deliver Unicef's messages directly to world leaders.
"There are certain countries I've visited where I've been able to actually speak to the prime minister, speak to the king of the country, because they are football fans, because they've supported Manchester United or Real Madrid.
"My career has led me to exactly this point," he said.
"The hard work that I've done in my career, which I've always done - I've always worked hard on the field - that has led me to a situation where I can help Unicef and can help children around the world."
He went on: "When people turn around to me and say 'what's the great thing about being David Beckham', it's exactly this situation."
Beckham has supported Unicef since 2005 when he became a goodwill ambassador with a special focus on child development through sport.
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He visited the Philippines last year to meet children affected by Typhoon Haiyan and helped launch a Unicef appeal to raise funds for the victims which reached £5.4 million in the UK.
Beckham described the 7 fund as a bold project and said it was a way of securing his long-term involvement with Unicef.
The ex-Manchester United star joked that he would be forcing his children to contribute to the campaign and explained how his wife Victoria was also doing important charity work.
"The children will be getting involved because I'm going to make them. But they are excited about that. They know exactly what I'm announcing today and what needs to be done.
"Victoria is obviously working with the United Nations which is very important because Victoria has a voice which people listen to and respect. She's doing some great work."
Paloma Escudero, from Unicef's global management team, said: "David Beckham has dedicated his 10 years as a Unicef goodwill ambassador to speaking up for those who need it most - the world's most vulnerable children.
"David has raised awareness of major dangers facing children - including malnutrition, Ebola and Aids - and has travelled with Unicef to Sierra Leone, South Africa, Thailand and most recently the Philippines, where he helped raise vital funds for children affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
"Through 7: The David Beckham Unicef Fund, we can act together to drive positive change for children."
After Beckham was asked if there was anywhere in the world where he has gone and no-one knew who he was, he replied: "No, apart from the Amazon, but that wasn't a Unicef charity trip.
"That is the only part of the world where I've actually been and not been recognised.
"The tribe that we visited actually didn't even know what football was."
Many football pundits questioned the number of off-field activities that Beckham was involved in while he was playing football, but he said his work outside of sport was now having a positive affect.
"People might have been critical of certain things that I have done outside of my football career," he said.
"But those things now, it's shining a light on protection for children."
After television presenter Kirsty Young, who was hosting the event, told Beckham that he has been forgiven for wearing a sarong, he smiled and said: "I liked the sarong, personally."