Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore has signed up to the Common Goal project to give 'more meaning' to his football career.
The 23-year-old, just back from a ten-month injury layoff, becomes the first Championship player to join the initiative, set up by Manchester United's Juan Mata.
Watmore, who signed for Sunderland as a teenager from non-league Altrincham and later attained a degree in economics and business management, will donate one percent of his salary to charities supported by the project.
“As a footballer, I didn’t come down the conventional route,” he told the Telegraph. “It’s not something I expected to do my whole life. It was kind of thrown on me when I was 19. The main reason for me [signing up to Common Goal] is just giving back. It’s a cliché but it is true.
“It also gives my job a bit more meaning. Playing football is a very enjoyable job and I am lucky to do it. By committing to something like this, it gives you a sense of purpose. The way they have done it, you don’t really notice one per cent but it contributes, and if everyone does it, it can contribute a lot.
“You think of the jobs people do in the world and I am just playing football. It gives you a sense of purpose when you know the money could be going to something very worthwhile, whether that is this country or globally. That appeals to me.
“I have always donated to charities but this is a way of formalising it … it is not just football, it has a wider influence. For me the main area I want to go down is to link in with my education, I was lucky enough to get a degree.”
He added: “I was very lucky to have access to education. You look around the world and the difference between being male or female can affect whether you get education. I look at Malala [Yousafzai] who couldn’t get education in her country. If football can help in any way it is a great thing to be involved in.”