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Strictly's Neil Jones: Homeless past pushed me to pursue dance career

The professional dancer has revealed how he ended up on the streets after leaving home to follow his dream.

Watch: Neil Jones opens up about homeless past

Strictly Come Dancing star Neil Jones has said he believes his homeless past pushed him to achieve his goals in his dance career.

The professional dancer - who appeared on the Strictly Christmas Special 2022 with TV star Rosie Ramsey - lived on the streets for a time after leaving home to train as a dancer, and believes his difficult past made him a champion in his field.

Jones, 40, told homeless charity Centrepoint: "My breaking point was when I was about 16-years-old, I'd moved to Finland to train as a dancer and I found myself homeless.

Read more: Neil Jones tattooed himself during lockdown

"I didn't want to tell anyone, I didn't want anyone to know about it, my friends didn't know about it.

Strictly pro dancer Neil Jones
Neil Jones lived on the streets as a teenage aspiring dancer. (Getty Images)

"I tried to make it work in order to turn up to training. And I found myself actually sleeping just outside of where I was rehearsing and then I'd get changed and take a shower there so that no one would ever know."

"Even my own mum didn't know until two years when I started talking about it so that was quite a low point in my life."

He went on: "My breakthrough moment was when a homeless organisation offered me safe accommodation and got me off the streets so I could focus on my dancing...

Neil Hones with Rosie Ramsey on the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2022.
Neil Hones with Rosie Ramsey on the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2022. (BBC)

"I decided to make the decision to come home, back to the UK, started training and moved then to Holland where I was for about eight years.

"And I progressed and I worked really hard until in the end I became a world champion.

"I feel like the low time in my life was what pushed me and drove me to actually make everything happen."

Neil Jones dancing with Nina Wadia in the 2021 series of Strictly.
Neil Jones danced with Nina Wadia in the 2021 series of Strictly. (BBC)

Jones - who last competed in the BBC show in 2021 partnered with EastEnders star Nina Wadia - joined Strictly in 2016 along with his then wife Katya Jones, 33. They met as professional dance partners in 2013.

They fell victim to the Strictly curse after Katya was pictured kissing comedian Seann Walsh, her celebrity partner, in October 2018.

After the photo of the kiss emerged, Walsh split from his actress girlfriend Rebecca Humphries. She then accused him on Twitter of being verbally abusive and controlling towards her, sparking a national debate about gaslighting.

Neil Jones and ex-wife Katya Jones performing at the launch of Strictly Come Dancing in 2019.
Neil Jones and ex-wife Katya Jones performing at the launch of Strictly Come Dancing in 2019. (Getty Images)

Both Katya and Walsh apologised publicly for the kiss but were voted out of the BBC show a week later.

Neil and Katya remained together for 10 months and continue to dance together on the BBC show.

Read more: Strictly's Katya Jones reveals why she's still wearing her wedding ring despite Neil split

Neil holds 45 dance championship titles, including 8 times British National.

Watch: Strictly fans spot row between Katya Jones and Tony Adams