HE may be have caught the nation’s attention on the X Factor, but he’s not too big to remember his mates.

Witham man Olly Murs is all anyone can talk about in the town after his appearance on Saturday night’s TV show.

The 25-year-old knocked the socks off Simon Cowell, who has a reputation for brutally honest criticism, as well as fellow judges Louis Walsh, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole.

Cowell, on seeing Olly’s performance of the Stevie Wonder hit Superstition, described him as “very, very, very cool”.

When it came to voting, Cowell said: “This is the easiest ‘yes’ I have ever given.”

Cheryl described him as a “natural born entertainer”.

But Witham friends of Olly say he has kept in close contact, not forgetting his roots.

He visited both his footballing mates and his local pub on Saturday night.

John Fisher, landlord of the George, said Olly is an “easy-go-lucky guy” who they were all rooting for.

Mr Fisher first noticed Olly two years ago when he was beatboxing in the pub.

He said: “What you saw on Saturday is what you get, he’s such a nice kid.

“I would be surprised if anyone had a bad word to say about him, unless they were jealous.”

Olly plays regularly at the pub with his friend Jonathan Goodey, he said.

Tony Last, chairman of Witham Town Football Club, where Olly used to play as a centre forward, said: “He came up and saw us, he’s not too big for that. We asked him how he got on and he said, ‘you’ve got to watch it’.”

The customer advisor for Climate Energy, on Witham’s Freebournes Road, reportedly tried for X Factor before, but was knocked back by the judges.

He also appeared on the Noel Edmonds show Deal Or No Deal in 2007, where he could have won £250,000, but came away with £10.

Olly, of Carraways, has been barred from speaking to local media until he goes through to the contest’s boot camp weekend, on September 26 and 27.