A 25-YEAR-OLD slimmer made the semi-finals of a competition to find the UK and Ireland’s top male slimmers, and got to meet a footballing superstar in the process.

Samuel Tomlinson from Burnley was one of 37 men to win a place in the penultimate round of Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2019 competition after losing an incredible 9st 3.5lbs.

Mr Tomlinson, who slimmed from 23st 2.5lbs to 13st 13lbs at the Burnley Slimming World group, was even congratulated by the former England striker, Emile Heskey.

Encouraged to join Slimming World by his brothers, Mr Tomlinson said it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made as he knows how difficult it can be for men to admit they are unhappy with their weight.

He said: “Before I walked through the doors of my group I was nervous that I’d be the only bloke in the room, I wasn’t though.

“When I thought about losing weight I thought I’d have to cut out all of my favourite meals and go hungry but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“I eat just as much as before, if not more.

“Steak and chips, cooked breakfasts, shepherd’s pie and curries are all still on the menu, I’ve just had to make some simple swaps like ditching the olive oil or butter in favour of low-calorie cooking spray and swapping white bread for wholemeal.

“Since joining group and seeing the weight on the scales drop each week, I started to think about how active I was.

“I’ve since joined a gym and I enjoy hiking now too.

“Getting to meet Emile was brilliant too. I never imagined I would be part of a slimming competition when I first set out on this journey, let alone meeting someone like Emile Heskey.”

Emile, who gained over 60 caps playing for England, was blown away by the achievements of the men he met at the competition.

He said: “As a footballer, being fit and active has always been at the forefront of my mind and I know how much effort and dedication it can take to stay healthy – both mentally and physically.

“I think it can be hard for men to admit they have a problem with something and then seek the help they need to fix it.

“It’s not an easy thing to do so hats off to Samuel because he has a healthy life ahead of him now.”