AS I picked my way across the car park in front of Posh's London Road ground during a particularly heavy rain storm, turned and saw a young couple in a silver BMW Z3 pulling into the car park, I realised instantly what the benefits of being the captain of Peterborough United are.
AS I picked my way across the car park in front of Posh's London Road ground during a particularly heavy rain storm, turned and saw a young couple in a silver BMW Z3 pulling into the car park, I realised instantly what the benefits of being the captain of Peterborough United are.But it turns out I was mistaken – the sleek Beamer actually belongs to Dean Holden’s wife, TV presenter and former pop star Danielle Nicholls – although he has his own, older BMW.
The young couple are living the dreams of thousands of young girls and boys up and down the country – and I wanted to know the secret of their success.
The pair met in their home city of Manchester when they were teenagers, and broke up, only to meet again and get married this summer. Both are down-to-earth, friendly and unpretentious, have worked hard for their success and are modest about their achievements.
“We had to write our occupations on our wedding certificate, and it looked really silly when we wrote ‘TV presenter’ and ‘footballer,’ said Danielle. “But what could we write? It was the truth!”
And so how did they bag their – and everyone else’s – dream jobs? The answer is easy – a bit of luck and a lot of hard work.
Dean (27) was brought up by a dad who lived, ate and dreamt football. He took his son to every Manchester United game, as well as the Man Utd school of excellence when he was 11.
The school was crowded, and so his dad took him to Bolton Wanderers, which had fewer kids and meant each lad was given more attention.
He played for Bolton until 2001, when he left for Oldham Athletic. And he signed for Coca-Cola League 2 team Posh last summer, although is currently suffering hamstring strain. He said: “If I wasn’t playing professionally, I’d be playing five times a week anyway. It’s my passion.
“At Posh, I get up, train between 10am and noon, and then the day’s my own. But you have to work on your fitness and watch your diet all the time.
“I love it, who wouldn’t? Being a footballer means getting up in the morning and having a kickabout with your mates.”
Dean said the only downside to being a pro footballer was that they work on two to three-year contracts, which doesn’t make for the most stable of careers. And injury and age means you‘ll be past your peak at 35. He plans to go into football management when his time on the pitch is over.
Working in showbiz needs just a potent a mix of hard work, luck, confidence, talent and determination to succeed as being a professional footballer – as Dean’s missus knows.
Danielle said she has always loved showing off, and shone when she started dance classes age 10. Age 17, she headed for London where she auditioned for a part in a band, Pure Gossip.
But things weren’t quite as fun as she imagined as a 10-year-old. “I didn’t get any time to myself,” she said. “The management controlled every part of my life, and would make me get up at 6am to go to the gym and run my life until 4am, when we were allowed to go to bed after performing.”
Sick of the pop idol life, she jacked it in after 18 months and headed for home in Manchester. And just when she thought things would never get better, her mum showed her an advert for wannabe children’s TV presenters in entertainment paper The Stage.
Her audition went well, and between 1999 and 2004 she presented CITV for six days a week, live from Birmingham. Along the way she interviewed pop icons Britney Spears, Victoria Beckham and Justin Timberlake.
She can currently be seen on Sky channel 146 on Thursday nights presenting dating show D8
But for all the parties, fun, cash and great times, Danielle said that working in showbiz is far from easy street.
She said: “There is a lot of luck involved in showbiz, and a lot of it depends on the agent you have and the people you have giving you advice.
“It’s also important that you stay away from drink and drugs, which are all around you when you work in entertainment. And people can be really superficial. I’m just a girl next door, a northern lass.”
TV presenters work on even shorter term contracts than footballers, sometimes lasting no more than a day.
“There’s a lovely feeling in having a secure job,” she said. “But I love working in the entertainment industry. I don’t like anything else, and I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else.”