OLLY Murs was always something of a star at school.

But the 25-year-old, of Carraways, Witham, wasn’t known for his singing skills, but for his performance on the Football pitch.

His former PE teacher said he was “absolutely staggered” when he heard Olly was winning over the judges on ITV’s X Factor.

Now, Keith Ferguson is backing him all the way to the final.

Mr Ferguson, who still teaches at Notley High School, where Olly was a pupil, said the talent show hopeful was a star centre forward in the school football team.

He added: “I was absolutely staggered when I saw him on the X Factor. I didn’t have a clue he could sing or dance, but everyone at school has been following Olly and is right behind him.”

“It’s funny, because he never used to sing football songs on the way to matches in the school minibus, and he didn’t have the most unique goal celebrations.

“How he comes across on TV is exactly how he is, or was – just really genuine and a nice guy. I hope he does well.”

Witham is getting behind its singing sensation. Neighbours in Olly’s street have posters in their windows, showing their support.

John Fisher, landlord of the George pub, in Witham’s Newland Street, where Olly used to sing with pal Jonathan Goodey, said: “He’s such a nice kid. I would be surprised if anyone had a bad word to say about him. We are all rooting for him.”

Tony Last, chairman of Witham Town Football Club, where Olly used to play as a semi-professional, said: “Everyone is behind him. He has the confidence to go all the way.”

Robyn Holmes, managing director of recruitment specialists Prime Appointments, of Newland Street, Witham, where Olly used to work, said: “He has a lovely personality. Everyone is rooting for him.”

Entertainment venue Capitol Square, in Perry Way, Witham, will be supporting the town’s new pop idol by showing the X Factor on big screens in the bowling alley.

So far, four Facebook fan pages have been set up to support Olly.

The most popular is Olly Murs, the X Factor page, which has more than 6,000 fans.

Out of ten groups on the site, the Olly Murs, the Official Group is the most popular, with 3,626 members.