Speaking to the PA news agency ahead of the star-studded charity match, Compston said: “It’s a weird thing in terms of I gave up on my dream of being a footballer when I was 17, when I was playing Scottish second division with (Greenock) Morton, but I was very realistic that that was probably about my level.
“So, weirdly, by giving up on that, I’ve sort of achieved my dreams, playing at all these amazing stadiums in front of huge crowds, with genuine legends, people who I would have never got to share a pitch with, so I’m very grateful for that.”
Among the famous faces also taking to the pitch at the London Stadium will be Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, singer Liam Payne and TV presenter Alex Brooker.
Former One Direction star Payne, 28, will captain England, while Bolt, 35, heads the Soccer Aid World XI team.
Compston also revealed that he finds himself starstruck and “shaking” when he meets his footballing idols, saying: “I don’t really get overly starstruck in terms of in our industry, because, you know, it’s just our work, but with footballers I really do.
“There’s times I can be shaking, when you see people like Roberto Carlos.
“For somebody who grew up as a football fanatic, it’s an incredible feeling.”
He added: “Playing on a pitch with (Alessandro) Del Piero and (Clarence) Seedorf and all these incredible names – it’s guys I grew up watching in Champions League finals.”
Mo Gilligan, Harry Redknapp, Gary Neville, Fara Williams and Chunkz will also make their return to the pitch this year.
Martin Compston during Soccer Aid 2021 at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester (Martin Rickett/PA)PA Archive/PA Images - Martin Rickett
Speaking about his former career as a professional footballer, Compston told PA he still faces pressure from his home town and friends to perform well when playing for Soccer Aid.
“You’re terrified of going home and getting a slagging from your mates. People in Greenock, my home town, my pals, they’re pretty ruthless – they’ll let you know if you had a bad game,” he said.
“I think just naturally I’m a pretty competitive person anyway, and maybe you see people charging forwards and maybe I’m a pessimist, but if I play football with people charging forward for goals, I’m sort of determined to defend because, even when you’re 3-0 up with a minute to go, I still don’t think the game’s over.”
Since its creation in 2006, Soccer Aid has raised more than £60 million for Unicef, which helps to provide aid to children worldwide.