Italian student Andrea Faustini is trying his hardest to show he has The X Factor – despite missing out on the show’s top prize.
Andrea, from Rome, was a huge hit with the public on the latest series of the cult ITV talent show, with his beard, happy personality and, of course, his voice winning him hearts and fans across the country.
“The reaction of people has been incredible,” he says. “When I first came here, I wasn’t expecting that, the love and support from people.”
He eventually finished third, but is reunited with many of the other finalists for a live tour, which arrives in Sheffield next week.
And, unsurprisingly, Andrea is having a ball.
We spend a lot of time together no the bus during rehearsals, it’s like a big, big family. Iam happy with everyone.”
Joining Andrea on the live tour are show winner Ben Haenow, runner-up Fleur East, as well as Jay James, Lauren Platt, Only The Young, Stevi Ritchie and Stereo Kicks.
Andrea says: “It’s amazing, there’s no pressure, we’re having so much fun altogether. Singing without pressure of the show is something else.”
Following a week of rehearsals – in Wakefield – the show kicked off in Belfast. It arrives at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena on Thursday, March 5.
Andrea says: “The show is beautiful, but knowing people are coming just for us is amazing. It’s a show where you can find everything. There’s a little bit of everything because we are so different from each other.
He has come a long way from 12 months ago, when he was studying Korean and Chinese at university back home in Italy.
“The whole experience has been a huge shock for me,” he says. “That’s why I lived the experience in a very relaxed way.
“Everything was so so big and massive. I just tried to stay focused on what I was doing.
“The whole experience was a show, but a beautiful show.”
Andrea originally came to the UK for the auditions, treating it as a ‘long holiday’, but has now put his studies on hold – “I’ve forgotten everything, I can’t even say ‘hello, how are you’ in Chinese any more” – and moved over here to try to live out his dream of a singing career.
“I do hope to be here in England and release music,” he says. “I just want to be a singer.
“Italy is my country and I’m proud of it, but I’ve moved here. I’d love to start here and later go back to there.”
For now, he is content to learn more about the UK, and particularly Yorkshire, home county of former Spice Girl Mel Brown, Andrea’s mentor on the show.
“I’d only been to London and Manchester before, so I am going to know a bit more,” he says. “I keep in touch with Mel B and she’s coming during the tour to see me.
“She was so supportive to me. I think we worked to well togethe. The best advice she gave me about anything was just enjoy myself and go for it.”
The X Factor Live Tour is at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, on Thursday, March 5. For tickets, priced from £21.45, visit www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk