Dedham boy and Ipswich Town Academy player Alex Graham, 11, stole the show at the X Factor final
An 11-year-old from north Essex who appeared on the X Factor live final has described the experience as “the best thing in my life” – but he still wants to be a footballer.
East Bergholt High School student Alex Graham was one of a series of mini-mes of presenter Dermot O’Leary who opened the show on Sunday, but Alex was the only one to speak.
The Ipswich Town Academy player appeared almost by accident, when producers asked if mum Cathy – a choreographer who runs a dance group used as backing dancers for both Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor, including eventual winners Rak-Su in the semi-final – knew of any younger boys who might fit the bill.
Cathy, from Dedham, said “no, but I have got a son”, and Alex ended up landing the role alongside fellow Colcestrian Mr O’Leary.
Alex said: “It was one of the best things in my life, a great experience.
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“I didn’t think much of it at first, but as it got closer I got more and more nervous. But I had a lot of support, from Dermot and from my football coach Duncan Wheeler who was amazing.
“It all went so quickly, and I would love to do it again – but football is my main thing, and that would be my first choice.”
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Alex, who has football four days a week, did not even tell school friends, fearing they would not believe him, but was mobbed by his mates when he went into school on Monday by pals who had seen him on the live ITV show.
The youngster, who attended Messing Primary School, had to spend all day at the show, doing rehearsals alongside stars such as Sam Smith, Pink and Little Mix who were performing.
He added: “Dermot is a lovely chap and he deserves what he has because he works so hard.”
Cathy, an ex-professional dancer who runs Ballistik cheerleaders including a training session in Colchester on Thursdays, said: “We often get asked if we have dancers for filming, and I always bring as many as I can because it’s a great experience for them.
“The other mini-Dermots were all at stage school but Alex was chosen to speak because he as most confident. I am really proud of him.
“ITFC were wonderfully supportive – they felt his learning to deal with high pressure situations is good for his role as a footballer.”