Strictly star rejected job offer to follow in famous dad's footsteps

kai widdrington, strictly come dancing
Strictly's Kai Widdrington rejected job offer BBC

Strictly Come Dancing star Kai Widdrington has revealed he turned down the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a professional footballer.

Speaking in an interview on talkSPORT, Kai — who is the son of professional footballer Tommy Widdrington — explained that he was forced to choose between football and dance at age 12 after being offered a contract from Southampton.

"I got a contract offer from Southampton to be a left-back and I'm a right-footed left-back so I could play with both feet," he told presenters Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs.

He continued: "So I was half decent right and I was quite quick and I turned it down to dance with the British champion.

kai widdrington angela rippon strictly come dancing

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"Baring in mind at this time I wasn't very good, but so I was like, 'yeah go on then!'"

The professional dancer went on to explain that he often uses the analogy of 2000 coming-of-age film Billy Elliot when telling the story, but added that his dad had been fully supportive of his decision.

He recalled: "The conversation I had with my old man was like 'listen Dad, I just love dancing that little bit more' and to be fair to him, I was never worried to tell him. That's how I knew it was going to be okay."

Kai went on to add that his dad was "the most supportive" of his decision and would often drive for several hours to take him to lessons alongside his own football training.

"He was and wasn't the Billy Elliot dad!" he added.

kai widdrington, strictly come dancing

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Kai's decision to turn his back on football and pursue his dreams of being a dancer has clearly paid off, with the Strictly star going on to have a glittering career as a professional dancer.

He has appeared on shows such as Britain's Got Talent and the Irish version of Dancing with the Stars before landing a spot on BBC One's Strictly in 2021.

Kai has also embarked on multiple live tours alongside his partner Nadiya Bychkova, with the pair heading on the road with their show Behind the Magic in June.

Strictly Come Dancing will return later this year on BBC One, while spin-off Strictly: It Takes Two airs on weeknights on BBC Two. Both shows are available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

Tickets for Strictly's 2024 live arena tour are available now.

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