HIS footwork made him a soccer legend – but Tony Adams’s first dance on Strictly left show judge Craig Revel Horwood wondering if his feet had been glued to the floor.
Former England captain Tony Adams has not found the leap from ball to ballroom the easiestCredit: BBC
The legend’s first dance on Strictly left him bottom of the scoreboard with his partner Katya Jones, 33Credit: PA
Tony Adams of Arsenal, at Highbury Stadium in London, around 1984Credit: Bob Thomas Sports Photography – Getty
And all the years he spent on the pitch couldn’t have prepared him for the gruelling nature of the BBC1 dance contest.
Tony, 55, said: “I’m used to playing in front of large crowds. I’ve got that in my background, as if it’s like a match day.
“But I was a little bit more confident of my football capabilities than my dancing capabilities.
“It’s really, really hard work. It’s more difficult than I ever imagined, so hard. My body’s been screaming.
“You can only do your best, can’t you? So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve got a pretty balanced diet and I’ve just upped it a little bit because I’m burning quite a few calories.”
His dance partner, Strictly veteran Katya Jones, 33, tells a very different story, claiming any fitness left over from his footballing days is hampered by his love of tea breaks during rehearsals.
She said: “He always had a six-pack — of biscuits! Definitely, over the last two weeks.
“He takes every possibility he can to take a break. There was this woman who kept making him tea. He’d say to her, ‘Keep talking so I don’t have to go back into training’.
“But nothing is a challenge too difficult for me. I love teaching, I love seeing people improve.
“He said, ‘I’m never going to do this!’ literally every single day. Then suddenly he went, ‘I reckon we can do this. There’s a glimmer of hope’.”
Tony added: “The intensity and the learning curve, it’s phenomenal, it really is. It’s madness to learn a new skill in that little amount of time.
“I’ve done a 50-hour week. I mean, it’s obscene. Usually you learn these new skills over a year. My admiration goes out for all these dancers. I didn’t realise they were fully professional and athletic and fit and mentally, emotion- ally, they’re on it.
Tony, 55, says: ‘It’s more difficult than I ever imagined, so hard. My body’s been screaming’ – pictured here during the live showCredit: PA
Pro Katya claims any fitness left over from his footballing days is hampered by his love of tea breaks – pictured Tony and Katya at Arsenal groundCredit: instagram/katyajones
She reveals ‘He always had a six-pack — of biscuits! Definitely, over the last two weeks’ – pictured the judges rating the pair’s first danceCredit: BBC ONE
“And, jokes aside, Katya is brilliant, by the way, absolutely brilliant. She knows her job inside out.” But there was a limit to what Katya could do with Tony in such a short time before his first live performance.
On Saturday’s show he was savaged by judge Anton du Beke after he performed a waltz to Go West, by The Village People, a tune adopted by Arsenal fans.
Anton said: “When you come out and dance we don’t know what your routine is . . . and it turns out neither do you.”
Viewers didn’t hold back either, with one tweeting: “Maybe the worst dance I’ve seen on this show.”
Do your best
But Katya insists she and Tony shouldn’t beat themselves up, adding: “We can’t compare our- selves to other couples. Everyone is different — different age, different level, different starting level. All you can do is do your best.”
Tony admits that although he is committed to trying his hardest, he doesn’t allow himself to feel pressured these days — certainly not after he had an emergency heart operation seven years ago following the discovery he had two blocked arteries.
He said: “I’ve just stepped back from pushing myself. I had the heart condition and I shouldn’t be here, I should be dead. Every day’s a bonus.
“You get to the stage where, actually, I’ve got no jobs on at the moment. I can take a step away from helping my charities that I look after and my mental health business.”
He also hopes his appearance on the show will inspire others to get help. Crucially, he wants to encourage people to help themselves too.
Father-of-five Tony added: “That’s my message, that’s why I’m on the show. Everything else is a bonus, to be honest. That’s why I’m here.
I’ve got a pretty balanced diet and I’ve just upped it a little bit because I’m burning quite a few calories.
“If I go for a cycle or for a run, I feel different. It’s connected, mental health and physical health. I’m going on one, sorry guys, but it is so powerful.”
Katya insists she isn’t going to let him take it easy and has already teamed up with Tony’s wife Poppy to crack the whip.
She said: “I love Poppy. We have good chats about how to make him work harder. She gets me to work him harder. I’ve been over for dinner, met the dog, met the daughter, Iris. They’re absolutely lovely.
“The best moment of the past two weeks is when they came and watched Tony dance for the first time, their reactions were invaluable. It’s priceless.
“It almost made Poppy cry. I’ve filmed us doing it. And they just looked at each other, Iris and Poppy, in disbelief.”
Tony has laughed off all the criticism but admits he would like to get to the stage where his family can be in the studio audience when he dances live.
He said: “I’d love all the family to come and see me, so that’s week three. But it’s one day at a time, one dance at a time.”
Maybe lay off the biscuits for a couple of weeks then.
- Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday at 6.30pm on BBC One.
She adds of the footie ace ‘He takes every possibility he can to take a break’ – pictured Tony celebrating a win in 1998Credit: Rex
Katya has already teamed up with Tony’s wife Poppy to crack the whip – pictured Tony with wifeCredit: Getty
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