Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand was at Old Trafford today to back a scheme by The Prince’s Trust to help tackle youth unemployment through sport.

It was announced at Old Trafford that Premier League football clubs across the UK will join forces with The Trust to support thousands of the UK’s most vulnerable young people. The Prince’s Trust will have supported 25,000 young people through football programmes by 2015.

One in five young people in the UK are currently struggling to find work, with young people three times as likely to be unemployed as the rest of the UK population. Many young people The Prince's Trust works with face issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, are in or leaving care, or have been in trouble with the law.

As part of a renewed partnership with the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), The Prince’s Trust will link up with football clubs who will provide extra, ongoing support for young people in their local areas.

Premier League stars including Rio Ferdinand will meet with young people on courses to give them the team skills and confidence they need to get a job or go back into education.

Rio Ferdinand, who announced the scheme at a Q&A with young people at Old Trafford, said: “Football changed my life completely. Not only did it keep me away from some of the negative influences we all face as young people growing up, but it also gave me something to aim for every day."

Football motivates, breeds confidence, and most of all – inspires. It’s an honour to be an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust.

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “The Premier League has supported The Prince’s Trust since 1997, working with over 22,500 young people in the process. This new phase of the partnership will see us targeting the most vulnerable young people in society, who face barriers to getting their lives moving in the right direction.  The difference it will make to those young people’s lives will be dramatic.”

Chief Executive of the PFA, Gordon Taylor OBE, added:

There's nothing more rewarding, in football and in life, than seeing a young person come through and make a success of themselves against all odds.

He went on to say, "That’s why I am proud that we are one of the longest standing partners having invested over £8.5million over the past 17 years. I am also proud that so many current and ex-professional footballers have pledged their support to The Trust by becoming official ambassadors.”

Aston Villa, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Cardiff City and Everton will all be linked to local young people on Prince’s Trust schemes, running monthly sport sessions to boost team skills, self esteem and motivation. Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Leon Osman (Everton), Frazier Campbell (Cardiff), Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa) and Steven Taylor (Newcastle) have all pledged to visit Trust programmes and take part in the sport sessions.

This extra support is in addition to the 40 professional football clubs who are already helping to deliver short Prince’s Trust programmes, funded by the Premier League and the PFA.