David Beckham has launched a new global project to help children in danger.

Humanitarian charity Unicef's 7 fund - named after the former England footballer's shirt number - will focus on seven countries where youngsters are at risk.

Beckham, 39, said: "My fame, my success on the field, opens doors for exactly things like this - the protection of children, the protection of women."

Beckham has supported Unicef since 2005 when he became a goodwill ambassador with a special focus on child development through sport.

He visited the Philippines last year to meet children affected by Typhoon Haiyan and helped launch a Unicef appeal to raise funds for the victims which reached £5.4 million in the UK.

Beckham said: "I knew that there was more I can do and this is a way of being part of Unicef for the longer term.

"This is a way of helping children around the world."

The locations that the 7 fund will focus on include Swaziland, Djibouti and Burkina Faso in Africa.

He went on: "People know me as a footballer of course and for the past 22 years I have been successful on the field, but my life has never been just about the football."

The ex-Manchester United star joked that he would be forcing his children to contribute to the campaign. "The children will be getting involved because I'm going to make them. But they are excited about that. They know exactly what I'm announcing today and what needs to be done," he said.

Paloma Escudero, from Unicef's global management team, said: "David Beckham has dedicated his 10 years as a Unicef goodwill ambassador to speaking up for those who need it most - the world's most vulnerable children.

"David has raised awareness of major dangers facing children - including malnutrition, Ebola and Aids - and has travelled with Unicef to Sierra Leone, South Africa, Thailand and most recently the Philippines, where he helped raise vital funds for children affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

"Through 7: The David Beckham Unicef Fund, we can act together to drive positive change for children."

After Beckham was asked if there was anywhere in the world where he has gone and no-one knew who he was, he replied: "No, apart from the Amazon, but that wasn't a Unicef charity trip.

"That is the only part of the world where I've actually been and not been recognised.

"The tribe that we visited actually didn't even know what football was."

Many football pundits questioned the number of off-field activities that Beckham was involved in while he was playing football, but he said his work outside of sport was now having a positive affect.

"People might have been critical of certain things that I have done outside of my football career," he said.

"But those things now, it's shining a light on protection for children."

After television presenter Kirsty Young, who was hosting the event, told Beckham that he has been forgiven for wearing a sarong, he smiled and said: "I liked the sarong, personally."