Aljaž Škorjanec is leaving Strictly Come Dancing

Aljaz Skorjanec

Aljaž Škorjanec is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after almost 10 years of strutting his stuff.

The Slovenian is the second high-profile professional dancer to quit this year, after Oti Mabuse announced her departure in February.

The dancer won the famous glitterball trophy on his first attempt in 2013, alongside model Abbey Clancy.

Making the announcement on his Instagram page, Aljaž said he would be "forever grateful" to the show.

The star has been dancing since the age of five, and won 19 Slovenian championships in ballroom and Latin as well as representing Slovenia at world level for over a decade.

But the 32-year-old wrote that his life changed forever when he received a phone call "on a beautiful sunny day in 2013" to offer him a slot on Strictly.

"It didn't matter how many beautiful ballrooms I performed in during my competitive career," he added, "stepping onto the sacred Strictly floor was the most nervous I'd ever been.

"A little while ago I made the decision that 2021 would be my last. The show has given me the opportunity and freedom to create and express myself in front of millions of people every weekend for the last nine years."

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As well as winning in 2013, Aljaž placed second in 2017, when he was partnered with actor Gemma Atkinson.

He has also been coupled with DJ Clara Amfo and presenters Alison Hammond and Kate Silverton.

Other partners have included Call The Midwife star Helen George, models Daisy Lowe and Emma Weymouth and, on last year's show, Sara Davies from Dragon's Den.

Aljaž is married to fellow Strictly star Janette Manrara, who left the main series last year to present the spin-off show Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.

" He is... what Strictly is all about," she wrote in an Instagram post after his departure. "Taking someone who wants to learn to dance, and making them truly fall in love with it.

"He makes every single person he encounters feel absolutely special; ask any of his partners throughout the years."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The BBC confirmed the star's decision on Twitter saying: "We are so sad to be saying goodbye to Aljaž after almost a decade as a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing.

"During his time on the series he has provided us with some unforgettable moments... through his incredible choreography, passion for dance and heart of gold.

"He will be missed by his Strictly family both on and off the dancefloor and we wish him only the very best as he embarks on his next chapter."

Aljaž thanked the shows producers and backroom staff in his farewell message, saying that they are the "unsung heroes of the show".

He also singled out the fans of the show saying: "Thank you, the people who watch Strictly, who've been so kind to me all these years. Every comment, vote, kind message never went unnoticed. You are the reason we do it."

He is yet to confirm his next move, but hinted at "exciting stuff " on the horizon, adding that he "can't wait to see what the future holds".