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I'm not bitter over one direction -- I'm a winner too

It can't be easy, winning the X Factor. Too much pressure, like. Or, in the case of 29-year-old Matt Cardle, too many runners-up to contend with. The 2010 winner may have sold 300,000 copies of his debut album, Letters, but it seems that's not good enough for an X Factor champ. Especially when you've got One Direction (they came third that year) conquering the globe.

"Well, this is exactly the curse of winning," says Matt. "A fair few articles that I've read of late, when I'm mentioned, it's like 'flop' and 'reject' are next to my name. I'm sorry -- on what f***ing planet is that a flop? A platinum album, a sell-out tour -- that is a great success. I'm not taking over the planet like One Direction, but then again, it's a completely different beast.

"Unfortunately, for me, they came from the same show, so my success has been completely overshadowed and I understand it, I'm not bitter about it at all ... "


Which is just as well, given that 2012 was the year that Matt Cardle parted ways with Syco Music (Simon Cowell's thundering empire) and Columbia. No mind. The Essex singer-songwriter has got an indie label to work with now, and second album The Fire (co-written and produced by Matt) is released next Friday. And, he really does love Niall Horan and the gang (who are also signed to Syco and Columbia).

"This is a business," he explains. "What sells quicker? What is easier to market? It's them. They're five great-looking kids -- give them some amazing pop and it's a no-brainer. I think [the label] had to think about what I was doing, about where we go, who we write with, and I don't think they had the time for that, or the inclination to want to do it. I think they just saw what they had with One Direction and ran with it, and that's fine."

Fair enough, but Matt was the winner -- not One Direction. Matt should have had the attention -- not One Direction. And Matt is entitled to be just a little bit jealous ... if he wants. "Honestly, I wouldn't trade what I'm doing for what they're doing," he insists.

Moving on, it seems Matt has made a new friend. Yep, footballer Robbie Keane is now on the Christmas card list and the pair recently had a memorable night out in Los Angeles. Matt said: "We just get on really well -- he's just a great, great guy. And he's got a great voice ... "

>Chris Wasser

The Fire is on sale now