Matt Cardle has been crowned winner of The X Factor 2010, following a closely fought battle against Rebecca Ferguson in the grand final.

The 27-year-old painter decorator from Essex – who had been the bookies’ favourite to take the title – wins a coveted £1m record contract as well as a shot at this year’s Christmas number one.

Rebecca finished in second place, while earlier in the show boy band One Direction came third. Fourth-placed Cher Lloyd was eliminated from the contest during the first part of the final on Saturday night.

Matt’s debut single When We Collide – originally recorded by Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro under the title Many Of Horror – will be released on December 15.

He broke down in tears upon learning that he had won the series – and afterwards appeared genuinely lost for words.

“I do not have a clue what to say,” he admitted as his mentor Dannii Minogue gave him a congratulatory hug.

“I just want to say to everyone thank you so much for voting for me, and congratulations to everyone who got to this stage, everybody should be so proud.

“And I want to thank all the judges, Dannii especially,” he added. “It feels really good to be putting a record out soon. To be the last man standing is just mind-blowing.”

Rebecca, meanwhile, was gracious in defeat, congratulating Matt seconds after his victory was announced.

“I’m so happy, so grateful to have come this far,” she said. “Matt’s amazing.”

Dannii added that Matt “totally deserved” his win. “Rebecca was incredible competition tonight,” she said. “He didn’t really believe he had it.”

After the results had been announced, Matt was presented with a copy of his debut single, which he then reprised – although he lost his way in the song towards the end when the other finalists from the show came on stage to congratulate him.

“I hope next time I sing it,” he joked, “I sing it a bit better than that.”

Matt’s victory means that Dannii Minogue, who was looking after the boys, is this year’s winning mentor – while Cheryl, who was mentoring Rebecca, missed out on a hat-trick of wins.

Sunday’s show opened with strong>Take That – who appeared on a previous results show, singing together as a five-piece for the first time in years – returning to the stage to perform Never Forget with the three remaining finalists.

The acts then performed one more song each, Matt kicking the contest off with Katy Perry’s Firework.

Despite falling foul of Simon Cowell with his bright yellow trousers, the mogul admitted it was one of Matt’s best performances to date.

One Direction made their bid for the final two with their version of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn, while Rebecca Ferguson won rave reviews from the judges with her rendition of the Eurythmics hit Sweet Dreams. “You have one heck of a recording voice,” Louis Walsh told her.

One Direction were subsequently eliminated from the competition, leaving Matt and Rebecca to perform what would be their debut single if they won.

While Matt gave an emotional rendition of the Biffy Clyro track, Rebecca Ferguson performed Duffy‘s song Distant Dreamer – with both attracting such positive reviews from the judges that even Simon admitted he “couldn’t call the result”.

Between performances, the finalists saw emotional messages of support from their family and friends.

Other highlights included Take That returning to the stage once again to sing the Flood, while a host of X Factor rejects – including Chloe Mafia and Ablisa, the girl duo who caused controversy when once hit the other on stage – performed a medley of Lady Gaga songs.

Meanwhile, Matt said on The Xtra Factor that he still could not believe he had won.

“I just said to someone it’ll sink in when I watch it next year and think ‘I did that last year’,” he told Konnie Huq.

The spin-off show also revealed that Matt came top in the public vote every week of the live finals, except for the first show when he finished second.

It is estimated he could make around £5m in the next year, from modelling contracts as well as record and recording sales.

However all of the top five finalists – including Mary Byrne, who was eliminated last weekend – are expected to be offered recording deals.