Matt Smith only became an actor because his dreams of becoming a footballer were shattered after he developed a back condition as a teenager.

Matt Smith

Matt Smith

The former 'Doctor Who' star has admitted he only took up acting because he was released by Leicester City at the age of 16 when he was diagnosed with spondylosis - a painful condition of the spine resulting from the degeneration of the intervertebral discs - and he was devastated because he felt he had a role to keep up at school.

Speaking on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, he said: "It was a tough time because I just felt unfulfilled, to be honest, I felt like I was so certain that that is what I was going to do. It was very difficult for me to tell people that I had been released because the vain part of me was like, I am that and I am the footballer, you know, and at school I was the footballer and suddenly I wasn't that.

"Fortuitously there was a drama teacher, Terry Hardingham, who said, 'you were never meant to be a footballer, I always thought you were really great at acting'."

The 35-year-old actor toyed with the idea for a little while because he considered acting to be "a bit girly" but he realised it gave him the same freedom as football.

He explained: "I kept it secret for a bit. But, I got the same sense of freedom doing that, which is really difficult now as an actor, that I did playing football."

And Matt is no doubt grateful that he took his teacher's advice because he's since landed the lead role in 'Doctor Who' and played Prince Philip in 'The Crown'.

Tagged in