X Factor: Friends and family ‘delighted’ for winner Matt Cardle

FRIENDS and family of The X Factor winner Matt Cardle have spoken of their pride after the weekend’s dramatic final.

The 27-year-old from Little Maplestead, near Halstead, was crowned as the champion of the hugely popular talent show on Sunday evening after beating fellow finalists Rebecca Ferguson and boy band One Direction.

Matt’s best friend and former band mate Ali McMillan, who spent the weekend at The X Factor studios, said he was “delighted” with the result.

“I’ve been backing Matt right from the beginning, but when it came to the final it just felt too close to call,” he said.

“Matt’s been struggling with a chest infection and tonsilitis which has really got him down, but he astounded me with his performance during the live final.”

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Matt has won a one-year recording contract worth �1million and is already on course to have a Christmas number one with the release of his single When We Collide.

“He’s living the dream right now and he’s releasing music as a solo artist, but I know he loves being in a band and I’m confident that we will work together in the future,” said Ali.

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“Many people who come through the X Factor can’t write their own music, but Matt is a true musician and I’m sure he’ll want to put his own stamp on things.”

Although Ali has enjoyed watching his friend throughout the competition he said he has been dismayed by some of the things written about him in the tabloids.

“I think it’s been a steep learning curve for Matt, and for his friends and family,” he said.

“He’s the man of the moment and he sells papers, but it’s incredible how many stories about him have been false.

“Some pictures were taken off my Facebook page of Matt smoking cigarettes, which a paper said were joints, but they weren’t. Nobody is perfect, but Matt is a genuinely nice guy with his feet firmly on the ground.”

Darren Lingley, landlord of Matt’s local, The Five Bells in Colne Engaine, said everybody in the village was “incredibly proud” of him and his victory proved that nice guys could finish first.

“I think now, after wining The X Factor, Matt finally believes in himself,” he said. “I don’t think he ever knew how good he was – unlike everybody else in the pub who has heard him play.

“He’s got a unique voice which has grabbed the pubic and it’s wonderful that he won. He’s going to be very busy but I know he will come back and perform at the pub.

“Everything has changed for him now, but his mates will keep him grounded. We don’t treat him any differently when he comes in here.

“Matt is fantastic at taking on a song and making it his own, but I really hope that he gets the chance to sing his own stuff. He’s a great songwriter and they always go down well with the audience.”

Matt secured the highest number of votes in every week of the competition apart from week one when Mary Byrne took the top spot.

Talking about being told that he was consistently ahead of his fellow contestants, he said: “If I’d known that, I don’t know if I’d have relaxed a bit more or put more pressure on myself.”

The total number of votes cast for the whole series was more than 15 million. In the final Matt secured 44.61% of the public vote.

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