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With auditions underway for this year’s series of The X Factor, last year’s runner-up Andrea Faustini says he still struggles to get his head round his new-found fame.

The Italian singer, who became known for his love of pugs as well as his voice, quit university in Rome to pursue his singing dream.

He became a household name after appearing on the 2014 series of the ITV show and finishing in third place.

“My life has completely changed in the last year. I came from being a normal student back home to being a recording singer, and everything is happening so, so quickly that I still don’t realise that this is happening to me,” he said.

“I feel like I’m the same guy who left home a few months ago. I’m still pinching myself.”

Ben HaenowBen Haenow won the 2014 series of The X Factor (Ben Birchall/PA)

Ben Haenow was crowned the winner of the series, with Fleur East as runner-up.

Andrea said: “I wasn’t really expecting anything at that time. Even though I’ve always known that I wanted to be a singer, I never thought that I’d come so far when I first came here.

“I remember standing in the queue for auditioning for X Factor and thousands of people were surrounding me and I thought: ‘Why should they pick me?’ It was more like a holiday.”

The 21-year-old singer’s debut album Kelly is out on July 17, with his first single Give A Little Love already released.

Andrea FaustiniAndrea Faustini (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Andrea, who sings in Italian for one song on the album, said he would be keen to record a full record in his native language.

“Absolutely yes. Italy will always be my country and I’m so proud of my origins,” he explained.

“I just think it’s still early days to think about a whole record in Italian, as I’m “born” in the UK, so people have to connect with me and my music! But it still remains one of my goals, so fingers crossed.”