SWINDON Town defender Ben Purkiss has been named as the new chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, it was announced this afternoon.

The 33 year old, who has made 23 appearances in all competitions since joining the club on a free transfer in the summer, takes up the role after being a member of the organisation's management committee for five years.

He told the pfa.com: "It's difficult to describe. I'm proud, honoured. You look back through the list of chairs and there haven't been that many.

"I'm really looking forward to doing my best for players up and down the country.

"I've been part of the management committee for five years and supported Ritchie (Humphreys, former PFA chairman), so I'm not coming in blind. I understand the scale of the role and I'm not daunted by it.''

He added: "Representing a diverse group – from those in the Premier League to those in League Two – is a real challenge. We need to be a union that supports anyone with any issues arising out of their employment. That's issue number one.

"It's a challenging environment. You're in the glare of the public eye, depending on what level you play at. At the top end you have all the pressures with social media, people almost monitoring your life 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"And you have that pressure to perform on a Saturday. One mistake and you're judged. One issue and you will be judged and it will snowball.

"Lower down you get judged by your manager, your chairman and coaches. If you let people down your next contract might not be forthcoming.

"You have the pressure to protect your livelihood. Where other people invest in their career and progress, a footballer goes back to square one and begins the process everyone else has done since leaving school. It's a privileged profession but it comes with its downside.''

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor added: "We congratulate Ben on his selection as chairman and feel sure his vast experience as a player and management committee member make him eminently suitable for the position.

"Ben is articulate, forward-thinking and knowledgeable about the Association and very well respected in the game amongst his fellow professionals, showing all the characteristics you need to be a chairman of the PFA."

The PFA also announced 18 players from across the Premier League, Football League and Women's Super League to serve on its management committee alongside Purkiss.

Burnley duo Tom Heaton and Jon Walters and Bournemouth and Stoke goalkeepers Asmir Begovic and Lee Grant were the Premier League players announced, while England centre-backs Casey Stoney and Steph Houghton are the representatives drawn from the women's game.

Championship trio Matt Jarvis (Norwich), George Friend (Middlesbrough) and Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) were also included along with Peter Clarke (Oldham), John Mousinho (Oxford), Andy Butler (Doncaster), Paul Robinson (AFC Wimbledon) Mat Sadler (Shrewsbury), Andy Taylor (Blackpool), Matt Bloomfield (Wycombe), Peter Vincenti (Coventry) and Mark Roberts (Forest Green).