Sol Campbell has announced he is running to replace Boris Johnson as Mayor of London after signing up to a hustings with rivals jostling for the Conservative nomination.
The ex-Arsenal, Tottenham and England footballer said he would “bring something new to the table” if he was chosen as the Tory candidate. But he acknowledged he was not going to be a “frontrunner” in the race.
And he rejected suggestions his controversial move from Tottenham to rivals north London Arsenal would cost him crucial votes.
"If we keep thinking about football, we're not going to do anything. We are dealing with people's lives here,” he said. "I want to change London for everybody."
He joins the race alongside Mr Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing Stephen Greenhalgh and millionaire businessman Ivan Massow.
Others expected to throw their hats into the ring include the leader of the London Assembly Tories Andrew Boff, Tory MP and green campaigner Zac Goldsmith, while popular radio presenter Nick Ferrari has said he is considering it too.
The Conservative Way Forward group confirmed that Campbell had signed up to take part in its mayoral hustings on July 4.
Announcing his candidature, Mr Campbell told The Sun: "I'm going in with my eyes wide open. I know I'm not going to be a frontrunner.
"But I look at people who have been in politics for five, 10, 15 years, and muck up, you see them muck up and think 'You guys are supposed to be pro!' People that have gone to Oxbridge, had thousands spent on their education, and I mean they are royally mucking up."
He added: "I bring something new to the table. This is a whole new road for me, something I can get my teeth into, but I just felt it was something I had to do.
"I come from a working-class background, it wasn't easy for me at all, but I worked hard. And now it's about giving something back."
Mr Campbell ruled out standing for the safe Conservative constituency of Kensington and Chelsea when the seat became available after Sir Malcolm Rifkind was forced to stand down over cash for access allegations.
He insisted at the time that his “ambitions lie elsewhere in the political arena”. But he helped Tory candidates by campaigning in key target seats at the election, including in the party’s successful triumph over Nigel Farage in South Thanet.
He was not afraid of attacking Labour's policies during the election, in particular Ed Miliband's plan to introduce a mansion tax for homes worth more than £2 million. He described it as "flawed and basically not fair at all".
During the last days of the election campaign, Mr Campbell branded Mr Miliband "not fit for purpose.”
A Conservative Way Forward spokesman said: "We are delighted that candidates like Sol Campbell are throwing their hat in the ring, and coming to debate the future of London at our hustings on 4 July. It's decision time. The starting gun has been fired. Other candidates now need to decide: are they in or out? London's future is at stake."
The list vying for Labour's nomination is even more congested than the Tory list. It includes Tottenham MP David Lammy, Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, Hackney MP Diane Abbott, former Olympics minister Dame Tessa Jowell, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas and transport expert and Labour activist Christian Wolmar.Reuse content