Aljaž Škorjanec has announced he has quit Strictly Come Dancing after 9 years.

The Slovenian dancer and choreographer, 32, won the BBC One series in his debut year, 2013, alongside model Abbey Clancy.

Škorjanec joined the show at 23 years, saying the Strictly dancefloor was the “most nervous” he had ever been.

In a statement on Instagram, the professional dancer admitted he had made the tough decision a while ago that the 2021 series of the show would be his last.

BBC Strictly wrote on Twitter that they are “sad to be saying goodbye” but wish him well for his next chapter.

Read Aljaž Škorjanec statement

He announced his departure on Instagram. He wrote: “On a beautiful sunny day in May 2013 one phone call changed my life forever!

“It went like this... We would like to offer you a position on @bbcstrictly as a professional dancer. A dream became a reality and it was the biggest opportunity for a 23-year-old boy from Slovenia. It didn’t matter how many beautiful ballrooms I performed in during my competitive career, stepping onto the sacred Strictly floor was the most nervous I had ever been.

“A little while ago I made the tough decision that Strictly 2021 would be my last. The show has given me an opportunity and freedom to create and express myself in front of millions of people every weekend for the last 9 years. The love and support I got from the team of producers was second to none. @jasongilkison, @sarahjamesface, @kimwinston, @jack.will.g are just a few of the unsung heroes behind the success of the show - I am forever grateful to them!

“Being a part of a group of professionals that inspire and push you to be better every step of the way is humbling and I will carry that inspiration with me forever. Every year the lineup of dancers would change but one thing stayed the same, WE WERE THE BEST! And this is one thing that I know will never change on Strictly!

“Strictly also has the BEST backstage team - the hair and make-up team, costume department, lighting, sound, props and special effects, camera operators… THANK YOU!

“My beautiful partners.. It's hard to put into words how many beautiful memories we have had. I LOVE YOU ALL!

“To my bucka.. from picking songs, creating stories and choreographing steps we always did it as a team. Your talent and selflessness knows no bounds. We got to perform with Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, BBC Symphony Orchestra.. moments I will keep in my heart forever. I LOVE YOU! 

“And finally, thank YOU, the people that watch Strictly who have been so kind to me all these years. Every comment, vote, kind message never went unnoticed. You are the reason we all do it, thank you!

“I have lots of exciting stuff planned that I will fill you in on soon. I can't wait to see what the future holds!


“Aljaz x”

Starting his dance career aged five in his native Slovenia, Skorjanec signed himself up for lessons in nursery without his parents’ knowledge.

He won 19 Slovenian championships in ballroom and Latin and later represented his country at world level.

In his debut series, Skorjanec took home the glitter ball trophy with Liverpudlian model and TV presenter Clancy during the first all-female final on the show.

In 2017, he reached the final with partner Atkinson but missed out to winners Joe McFadden and Katya Jones.

Strictly executive producer Sarah James said: “We are so sad to be saying goodbye to Aljaz after almost a decade as a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing.

“Since lifting the glitterball with Abbey Clancy in his debut series he has become a firm favourite with viewers across the country.

“During his nine series he has provided us with some unforgettable moments on the show through his incredible choreography, passion for dance and heart of gold.

“He will be missed by his Strictly family, both on and off the dancefloor, and we wish him only the very best as he embarks on his next chapter.”