David James knew he was being ambitious when he set out to launch ‘football’s biggest environmental movement’ but the former England No.1 has never been shy of a challenge.

The 53-year-old helped co-create Football Rebooted alongside Utilita Energy in 2021 with the aim of preventing at least a million pairs of boots from ending up in landfill and saving 136,000 tonnes of carbon – the same as taking 7,000 cars off the road for a year.

James converted his own vehicle from diesel to rapeseed oil while a Portsmouth player and wishes he could turn the clock back further when it comes to the issue of recycling footwear.

“I can’t even think of a number to put on how many boots I had,” he said.

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“It continues in post professional life. I am a hoarder, I have boots from the 90s but I’m also a collector as well. They are not sat there doing nothing, they are part of a collection.

“But since I’ve stopped playing professionally, I play in a lot of charity games and events.

“At the end of a SoccerAid match, I’ll ask everyone if they’re keeping their boots and I usually leave with a couple of bags to donate to Football Rebooted.

“It’s going very well and it is an opportunity that doesn’t stop – kids grow and their feet get bigger, so there’s always a need.

“Had I been aware of upcoming environmental issues as a player, the idea of donating boots rather than throwing them away would have been a lot more useful.”

Football Rebooted was born in May 2021 after findings from a Utilita-commisioned report and is based on community integration, encouraging any donations to be distributed in the local area.

James has continued to make eco-friendly changes to his own lifestyle post-retirement and believes the onus is on today’s players to do likewise.

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Professional clubs from Premier League to non-league have been criticised in recent years for taking short-haul flights to away games, with Wrexham opting to fly from Manchester to Newcastle for a clash with Gateshead and a BBC study earlier this year revealing a Premier League club took a 27-minute flight to a match.

“It’s nigh-on impossible for a football team to not have excess emissions, especially with regard to the carbon footprint,” added James.

“The players don’t have control over whether they go on a plane or not, that’ll be a club issue.

“But even if the club are asking you to jump on a short distance flight, there are ways you can mitigate your carbon footprint day to day.

“I don’t do bonfires, I’m a big composter and I don’t use milk. Individuals can always find ways to improve their carbon footprint.”

Football Rebooted is football’s biggest environmental movement, preventing one million pairs of football boots ending up on landfill. Visit https://footballrebooted.co.uk/ to find out more