AN X-FACTOR star once played football alongside England manager Gareth Southgate in their school team.

Chico, who is from Crawley, revealed he took to the pitch alongside the Euro 2020 finalist manager while playing for Hazelwick School.

Chico, real name Yousseph Slimani, rose to fame in 2005 after reaching the quarter finals of the TV talent show X-Factor.

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The 49-year-old was born in Wales but moved to Morocco at the age of two.

He returned to the UK at 14 and joined Hazelwick School in Three Bridges.

Discussing his upbringing on Loose Women ahead of the World Cup in 2018, Chico said it was soon clear the England manager was better than most.

“Not many people know this, but when I came from Morocco and couldn’t speak a word of English, but I could play football,” he said.

The Argus: X-Factor star reveals he played football alongside Gareth SouthgateX-Factor star reveals he played football alongside Gareth Southgate

“I was in a school called Hazelwick School in Crawley, which happens to be the same school as Gareth Southgate, and we happened to be in the same football team.

“But the thing is, they were all playing for Brighton Youth and all of that. He [Gareth Southgate] came on and dribbled past everybody.

“I looked at him and went 'the chances of me becoming a Moroccan Maradona have just evaporated'.”

Chico released the only number one of his career in 2006, entitled It’s Chico Time.

In 2010, he also released a song called It’s England Time, in support of the England squad travelling to the World Cup in South Africa.

Chico described Gareth Southgate as an “incredible being” and “just the nicest person”.

“There were two sides – the nerdier lot, which I happened to be part of because I couldn’t speak English and what not, and then the cool people. But he could just be anywhere,” he said.

“He was exactly as he is now. Nobody had a bad word to say about him. Everyone just loved him.”