■ The former England footballer, 37, on how marriage to Frankie from The Saturdays survives his chocolate habit and having to punch Spencer Matthews
Tell us what you’re doing for Sport Relief…
I’m boxing [Made In Chelsea’s] Spencer Matthews. I’ve always wanted to do something for Sport Relief and I was offered this. They support thousands of charities, including ones for mental health, and my wife, Frankie, has spoken about the issues she’s had with depression. Not enough is done is about mental health — it’s something lots of people have to deal with daily. Men don’t talk about it enough. Everyone’s brain is different and you don’t know what other people are going through, especially if they’re not talking.
Have you suffered from depression?
I wouldn’t say so but I struggled when I stopped playing football. Your life is so structured each day so when that stops you wonder what to do with yourself. You can see how people end up going down a dark path. Having a goal always helps but working out helps as well, if it’s going to the gym or just going for a walk.
Have you done boxing training before?
I’ve done a bit in the past and I’ve been training for this for a few weeks. It’s an art — especially when you look at boxers like Floyd Mayweather. Spencer and I will be very basic compared to boxing professionals but I hope I can show what I’ve been taught in terms of movement and countering. We’re not going in there to have a tear-up so hopefully I can show some of what I’ve learned.
Are you worried about ruining his good looks?
Not particularly. I just want to go in there and hopefully my training won’t go down the pan. I don’t want to let my coach down!
Are you still in touch with anyone from I’m A Celebrity?
I saw Joel Dommett and Larry Lamb recently. I’m in touch with most of them and our WhatsApp group is still going. I wasn’t sure about doing the show at first but I knew I’d never get the chance again. I was really nervous and once I got in there I missed the family but it’s one of the best things I’ve done.
Are there any other celebrity shows you want to do?
I think I’d be too stiff for Strictly — I’ve been told I need to loosen up with the boxing. Frankie’s doing Disney On Ice so I’ve given ice skating a go with the kids — so maybe I could do Dancing On Ice. You never know.
Did doing Married To A Celebrity help change your annoying habits?
No, I don’t think either of us are going to change too much but I’m not surprised Frankie turned up with a long list of complaints. One of them was that she’ll buy chocolate and eat one square and she’ll put it away and I’ll come along and eat the rest of it. I’ve got no willpower. That hasn’t changed. She bought a load of Easter eggs for the kids very early and I got through all of those and had to replace them.
What are your proudest footballing achievements?
My debut for Southampton and my debut for England. Just having a career as a professional football player was a big achievement. I got signed by Southampton when I was 13 and then had a load of work to do to get into the first team and needed to do even more work to keep that going.
How will England do in the World Cup this year?
No one’s expecting them to do that well so they might be a surprise. We’ve got good players and I’m hoping they can surprise a few people.
What lessons did your career in football teach you?
It taught me a work ethic, which probably came from my mum and dad anyway. They instilled in me that I had to work hard and then I learned that again at Southampton. I wasn’t the most talented in my youth group — there were some really good players — but I worked really hard and I’d always do extra work if I needed to. Nothing comes easy. The rewards were great but I had to work hard to get there and stay there.
What are your career plans?
I want to get my coaching badges. I want to give it a go. I love being around kids, so it could be to coach children or work with older players. I miss being around football and the banter with the lads day in, day out. It’s funny and keeps you switched on. It’s different to the banter I have with my two- and four-year-olds!
Sport Relief is on BBC1 at 7pm on Friday