James Beattie is used to diving in at the deep end – and he knows he has done just that at Accrington Stanley!
The former QEGS pupil was second in the country at 100m freestyle before a shoulder injury meant it was football only for the then-schoolboy.
In a career which has seen him go from Blackburn to Southampton for £1m and then Everton for a then-record £6m and five England caps, Beattie has certainly ridden the crest of a wave.
And now he is a big fish in League Two’s small pond where he aims to make an impression as a player-coach.
"I guess I have got used to getting attention throughout my career, it’s part of the territory," said the 34-year-old, who had the national media rushing to the Crown Ground on Wednesday morning to get an interview with the Reds’ new star.
"I know Leam (Richardson) well from our days at Blackburn and have always kept in touch with him and followed his progress.
"I know he was shocked when Cooky (Paul Cook) left Accrington but it was perfect for Leam to take over, it’s a great opportunity for him and I am really proud of him, especially to be a football manager at 32 and I am sure he will make a success of it.
"He phoned me up and I was expecting him to ask me to come and play a few games.
"But we had a good long chat and he suggested a player-coach role which is a totally different angle for me and one I am pleased to take on.
"I haven’t got my coaching badges yet and we are making enquiries but I think the main objective is for me to come and play football.
"I hope I can help the forwards with my experience, score a few goals myself and develop the coaching role."
It’s always hard for a player with a big reputation entering a dressing room but Beattie said he has been made to feel welcome immediately.
"The dressing room is a unique place and when I am not at a club, I missed it terribly.
"A number of the lads here are Scousers and Everton fans so I think that stood me in good stead.
"They showed me respect for what I have done but I want to contribute to the dressing room and getting a few goals would go a long way to doing that."
Beattie has had the £6m price tag but he has also suffered with injuries and was released from Sheffield United in the summer so he has experienced the ups and downs of football life.
"I think I can bring a lot of experience to what is a young team," he continued.
"I have experienced a lot in my career. There are a lot of things I can teach them but for me at the moment it’s all about playing football and being around a club and enjoying a different type of experience."
He might have played in some of the big stadiums in the UK but Beattie likes the Crown Ground: "We used to play finals here when I was at school so I knew where I was coming to.
"Accrington have done so well as, for most of my career, they have been a non-league side and it’s great that they are in the league and I am glad to be here."
And, he may have scored in the Premier League but he admits scoring for Accrington will feel just as good.
"It will be a great feeling," said Beattie, who last scored a goal in October 2009 but wants to put that right as soon as possible.
"I think it settles you in as, at the end of the day, I just want to be one of the lads.
"I am here to do a job on the pitch and off it and I want to do it well."
Beattie could have taken the easy way out as, following the end of his top-flight football career and investment in property, it would have been no problem hanging up his boots.
"Since the summer I have been busy as I am married with three children and have some property and could have retired and been settled for the rest of my life," said Beattie, who lives in Cheshire.
"It certainly isn’t about money coming here. For me, it’s about playing football and helping out a mate and hopefully it will all come together."
One thing he will have to get used to is calling his former team-mate Richardson ‘gaffer.’
"I don’t think I have called him that yet and there is a £1 fine for Children In Need if you don’t so I’d better remember from now on!" he smiled.