A FORMER Premier League footballer is sharing his own tragic story of diabetes in a bid to urge others to stay healthy.

George Elokobi, 34, has become an ambassador for the Diabetes UK charity after seeing his father battle with type 1 diabetes throughout his childhood.

Mr Elokobi, who lives in the Braintree district and used to play for Colchester United, saw his father, Martin, die from complications with the disease when he was just 10-years-old.

He was able to overcome the tragedy to become a professional footballer and rise to the top level of the sport with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

But he has shared the tragic story of his father in the hope it will prevent others from living unhealthy lifestyles.

He said: "When I was younger I remember a room full of syringes and watching my father struggle quite a lot.

"He didn’t just find the physical side of his diabetes difficult, but the emotional side of it - trying to manage it day in and day out really took its toll.”

He added: "I understand about hard work, discipline and the importance of a healthy body and healthy mind. I never take any of it for granted and want to help people, especially those managing a condition like diabetes, to help them to be their healthiest self.

"The condition is relentless, so having the tools to support yourself mentally and physically is vital.

"This is why I’m delighted to be working with Diabetes UK to support local communities to get fitter and healthier, and there has never been a more important time to do this."

The charity helps people diagnosed with the disease and provides funding for further research into its causes.

Peter Shorrick, Diabetes UK Midlands and East regional head, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome George to the charity.

"He brings a wealth of experience and his own personal journey to support the vital work of Diabetes UK.

"As George mentioned there has never been a more important time for us all to make our physical and mental health a priority. We are really looking forward to working with George as we continue to support people living with diabetes and together, create a world where diabetes can do no harm..”