David Beckham yesterday backed a campaign to end knife crime, as he remembered a pal who was stabbed.
The England midfielder said he saw the devastating effects blades can have on youngsters when his mate was knifed in the back and paralysed - ending his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Former England skipper Becks added: "I had a situation when I was 13. One of my best friend's brothers was going to sign for Leyton Orient.
"He saw a fight break out and went to help and ended up getting stabbed in the back and paralysed.
"It's been going on a long time and has only been highlighted now.
"Nobody wants to see the devastation that I saw my friend and his family go through.
"As a parent, you don't expect to pack your kids off to school in the morning and never see them again."
The 33-year-old LA Galaxy star spoke during the launch of a government anti-knife campaign at England's Hertfordshire training ground ahead of tomorrow's friendly match with the Czech Republic.
He was joined by goalie David James and Rio Ferdinand. Becks said: "It's something us as footballers can get involved in.
"We have a voice, a voice kids listen to. We want to do everything possible to beat knife crime."
Manchester United star Rio told how he was brought up on a tough estate in Peckham, South London, but steered clear of weapons.
The defender, who went to the same school as murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, said: "I didn't carry a knife, I was around people who probably did. We are fortunate that we had goals in life, we wanted to play football.
"I never forget the day the head told us Stephen was killed. It was chilling. It really hit home.
"One day he is enjoying life talking about doing art A-level and the next he's gone."
Anti-knife czar Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alf Hitchcock praised the players.
He said: "Are young people really going to believe it from a 50-year-old policeman? No, but they will when they hear it from their icons."