Simon Cowell has said that fellow X Factor judge Cheryl Cole is now “free to shine” following her divorce from footballer husband Ashley on Friday.

Speaking as the couple’s decree nisi was granted in the High Court, the mogul admitted that he did not know how Cheryl had coped with everything that had happened to her in recent months.

“I think she’s going to appreciate what she has and enjoy it more,” he said. “I am not saying she wanted to go through it, but she has definitely come out with a different perspective.

“I think you will see a sharp, focused Cheryl Cole when she returns. We have spoken a lot and now she has a new sense of perspective. My feeling is that she is in a better place mentally.”

Simon added that the singer’s recent malaria scare had come as a “major shock” – and that during one of their chats he told her her understood the kind of pressure she was putting herself under.

“At some point I actually think you start to feel guilty about letting people down,” he said.

“And my advice was, You don’t have to feel guilt – you have the choice now to decide what you want to do’.”