Strictly Come Dancing's Pasha Kovalev quit 'because girlfriend Rachel Riley

Strictly Come Dancing’s Pasha Kovalev quit ‘because girlfriend Rachel Riley feared show’s curse and claimed ballroom pro was underpaid’

He announced his departure from Strictly Come Dancing after eight years on Wednesday.

And it has been claimed Pasha Kovalev chose to leave the ballroom show because his girlfriend Rachel Riley feared becoming a victim of the show’s curse when he was paired with attractive partners, reports The Sun

The pair met on the 2013 series of the show before sparking up a romance one year later.

Departure: It has been claimed Pasha Kovalev chose to leave Strictly because his girlfriend Rachel Riley feared becoming a victim of the show's curse when he was paired with attractive partners reports The Sun 

Departure: It has been claimed Pasha Kovalev chose to leave Strictly because his girlfriend Rachel Riley feared becoming a victim of the show’s curse when he was paired with attractive partners reports The Sun 

It was also claimed that Countdown star Rachel, 33, felt Pasha, 39, was underpaid for his role on Strictly.   

A source said: ‘Rachel is adamant Pasha is being paid far less than his hours deserve.

‘Strictly has a particularly gruelling schedule and when you weigh that up against his pay packet, she feels it’s not worth it.  

‘Pasha isn’t one of the more unionist dancers who push back at producers when they’re working 18 hour days. He just sees it as part of the job.’

Ballroom sensation: It was also claimed that Countdown star Rachel, 33, felt Pasha, 39, was underpaid for his role on Strictly (above with 2014 dance partner Caroline Flack)

Ballroom sensation: It was also claimed that Countdown star Rachel, 33, felt Pasha, 39, was underpaid for his role on Strictly (above with 2014 dance partner Caroline Flack)

Together: A source said: 'Rachel is adamant Pasha is being paid far less than his hours deserve. 'Strictly has a particularly gruelling schedule and when you weigh that up against his pay packet, she feels it's not worth it'

Together: A source said: ‘Rachel is adamant Pasha is being paid far less than his hours deserve. ‘Strictly has a particularly gruelling schedule and when you weigh that up against his pay packet, she feels it’s not worth it’

Blonde beauty Rachel ended her 15-month marriage to James Gilbert three months into the series.

In November 2018, she admitted that she found it hard watching Pasha compete on the show with other women. 

Discussing the curse, she said: ‘It’s left its mark. It just makes me feel nervous — so I make myself busy when it’s on. I leave Pasha to it.’

Mailonline has contacted representatives for Pasha, Rachel and Strictly for comment. 

This comes hours after the Russian ballroom pro announced his departure from the show. 

He walked away with the glitterball back in 2014, when he performed with Caroline Flack.   

Pasha tweeted on Wednesday: ‘After scoring 93 perfect tens, reaching 4 finals and lifting 1 glitter ball, it’s time for me to find a new challenge and so I’ve decided to make last year, my final season on Strictly. 

‘I’ve had eight fantastic years, full of wonderful memories, thanks to the incredible partners, professionals and a myriad of behind the scenes teams who all work to make Strictly the amazing production that it is.’

Shock announcement:This comes hours after the Russian ballroom pro announced his departure from the show  (pictured winning the glitterball with Caroline Flack in 2014) 

Shock announcement:This comes hours after the Russian ballroom pro announced his departure from the show  (pictured winning the glitterball with Caroline Flack in 2014) 

Sad: The news will no doubt come as a huge surprise to his fans after he has endured great success on the show

Sad: The news will no doubt come as a huge surprise to his fans after he has endured great success on the show

Achievement: Pasha paid tribute to the show on Twitter revealing his joy at scoring 93 perfect tens over the years

Achievement: Pasha paid tribute to the show on Twitter revealing his joy at scoring 93 perfect tens over the years

‘The biggest thanks go to all the members of the public who’ve supported me so much over the years – I look forward to seeing you on the Strictly Pro-Tour this spring, and for many more adventures to come. 

Caroline herself, wrote: ‘SO sad to hear the news that Pasha is leaving Strictly. You gave me some of the proudest moments in my life.’ 

The Strictly Twitter account first broke the news, sharing a picture of Pasha and Caroline lifting the glitterball trophy.

They wrote: ‘Sadly after eight incredible series, the brilliant @PashaKovalev has decided to leave #Strictly.

Lovely words: Caroline Flack herself shared a sweet post on social media 

Lovely words: Caroline Flack herself shared a sweet post on social media 

Paying tribute: Strictly Come Dancing announced the news with this sweet tribute 

Paying tribute: Strictly Come Dancing announced the news with this sweet tribute 

‘Pasha, from all of us, thank you for your amazing choreography and routines over the years. You’ll be sorely missed!

‘[He] is an incredibly talented and dedicated dancer who is much loved by his Strictly family and viewers and will be hugely missed.

PASHA’S PARTNERS  

2011 – series 9 – Chelsee Healey

2012 – series 10 – Kimberley Walsh

2013 – series 11 – Rachel Riley

2014 – series 12 – Caroline Flack

2015 – series 13 – Carol Kirkwood

2016 – series 14 – Naga Munchetty

2017 – series 15 – Chizzy Akudolu

2018 – series 16 – Ashley Roberts  

‘Since joining the show in 2011, he has competed in eight series, made it to four finals and was crowned champion with Caroline Flack in 2014.

‘We would like to thank him for everything he has contributed to the show over the years and wish him the very best for the future.’ 

Strictly fans were very upset about the news and took to Twitter in their droves to express how they were feeling.

They wrote: ‘What fool drew up Pasha’s contract and didn’t include a clause saying he’s never allowed to leave under any circumstances whatsoever #Strictly.’ 

‘In all honesty Pasha is one of the best (if not the best) professionals the show has ever had.’

All the scores: Pasha and Chelsee Healey scored 40 points for Paso Doble in week 11 of series 9

All the scores: Pasha and Chelsee Healey scored 40 points for Paso Doble in week 11 of series 9

What an achievement: Kimberley Walsh and Pasha earned 40 points three times in series 10, for their Fusion, Charleston and Tango

What an achievement: Kimberley Walsh and Pasha earned 40 points three times in series 10, for their Fusion, Charleston and Tango

Spot on: In 2014, series 10, Pasha and Caroline got perfect scores for their Salsa, Cha Cha Cha, Slow Dance and Charleston

Spot on: In 2014, series 10, Pasha and Caroline got perfect scores for their Salsa, Cha Cha Cha, Slow Dance and Charleston

Perfect tens: Pasha and his final dance partner, former Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts, hold the record of the highest average for any celebrity on the show ¿they scored perfect marks for their American Smooth, Salsa, Slow Dance and Charleston

Perfect tens: Pasha and his final dance partner, former Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts, hold the record of the highest average for any celebrity on the show –they scored perfect marks for their American Smooth, Salsa, Slow Dance and Charleston

Who is Pavel ‘Pasha’ Kovalev? 

Pavel ‘Pasha’ Kovalev, 39, is a Russian professional Latin and ballroom dancer.

He started dancing aged eight, and competed in the Amateur Latin category with his professional dance partner, Anya Garnis. 

In 2001, they both moved to America and a year later, they started competing there, as well as the United Kingdom and Canada. Their competitive achievements include being finalists in the US Open from 2002 to 2006.

In 2008, they earned another big break when they competed on So You Think You Can Dance, the US version of Strictly Come Dancing

In 2011, Kovalev moved to England to take part in Strictly, where he scored 93 perfect tens, competed in four finals and won series 12 in 2014 with Caroline Flack.

He and his final dance partner, former Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts, hold the record of the highest average for any celebrity on the show – with an average of 36.9

They also hold the record for the most perfect scores – with a total of five. 

He has now announced that he is looking for a new challenge following eight years on the show.

‘Ah Pasha you will be so missed. Your talent and dedication to dance is amazing. I have no doubt you will be fantastic at whatever challenge you throw yourself into next. Best of luck for the future.’ 

Meanwhile, Rachel couldn’t resist but sharing a loved-up snap of herself and boyfriend Pasha Kovalev for his 39th birthday on Saturday.

The Countdown beauty, 33, shared a snap of the couple where she went make-up free, cosying up to her other half.

It looked like the pair had an adventure-filled day as they donned head torches for the photo.

She wrote: ‘I am now dating a very handsome 39 year old.’  

Soon after her stint on the BBC talent show, Rachel split from university beau husband Jamie Gilbert. They had been married for 16 months.

Yet Rachel previously admitted that Strictly may have contributed to her split from her husband. 

She said being away from home, while training, gave her thinking space to consider her relationship, which was already in trouble.

Talking to MailOnline, she said: ‘I was doing The Gadget Show on Channel 5. I was doing Countdown. Then Strictly. I was basically by myself for a few months, away from home. 

‘It gave me the distance to work out what I wanted. There’s no doubt the timing contributed to the split, but I’m sure Strictly wasn’t the reason.’ 

Would the marriage have ended anyway? ‘Yes, it would have. It would just probably have been longer and more painful.’ 

Pasha and Rachel’s Strictly romance 

Couple: Rachel, 33, shared a snap of herself and Pasha on his 39th birthday

Couple: Rachel, 33, shared a snap of herself and Pasha on his 39th birthday

Soon after her stint on the BBC talent show in 2013, Rachel split from her university beau husband Jamie Gilbert. They had been married for 16 months.

While there is no suggestion of any infidelity, Rachel has admitted that Strictly may have contributed to her split from her husband. 

She told MailOnline that being away from home, while training, gave her thinking space to consider her relationship, which was already in trouble.

Rachel, 33, said: ‘I was doing The Gadget Show on Channel 5. I was doing Countdown. Then Strictly. I was basically by myself for a few months, away from home. 

‘It gave me the distance to work out what I wanted. There’s no doubt the timing contributed to the split, but I’m sure Strictly wasn’t the reason.’ 

Would the marriage have ended anyway? ‘Yes, it would have. It would just probably have been longer and more painful.’ 

Rachel began dating Pasha soon after and the pair have been loved-up ever since, moving into a London home together

While the pair rarely share details of their romance, Rachel admitted that she wasn’t looking for a relationship when she met the ballroom star in an interview with The Sun.

The mathematician divulged: ‘I can only speak for myself but if I had seen on paper that I would have ended up with a ballroom dancer from Russia – we didn’t even speak the same language growing up, I liked football and maths – it doesn’t really work.’

She continued: ‘But I guess it’s about personality and we just found we get on really well and we have a good relationship.’

Rachel, who is learning Russian, went on: ‘He didn’t go to uni, we didn’t watch any of the same programmes but were we have our differences…It’s interesting. You don’t need to like the same stuff.’

She also said: ‘His mum doesn’t speak English, and his brother isn’t that confident speaking it – the first time I met them alI couldn’t understand a word. 

‘It’s a bit unnerving. But now when he Skypes his mother in Siberia I can say a few words, or work out what they’re talking about.’  

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Oxford graduate shared she’s not quite ready to become a mother yet.

‘All my friends are getting pregnant at the moment. That’s good for them, but it’s currently not on my radar,’ she said in an exclusive interview in today’s Mail on Sunday Event magazine.

Rachel began dating Pasha soon after and the pair have been loved-up ever since.

While the pair rarely share details of their romance, Rachel admitted that she wasn’t looking for a relationship when she met the ballroom star in an interview with The Sun.

The mathematician divulged: ‘I can only speak for myself but if I had seen on paper that I would have ended up with a ballroom dancer from Russia – we didn’t even speak the same language growing up, I liked football and maths – it doesn’t really work.’  

She continued: ‘But I guess it’s about personality and we just found we get on really well and we have a good relationship.’

Rachel, who is learning Russian, went on: ‘He didn’t go to uni, we didn’t watch any of the same programmes but were we have our differences…It’s interesting. You don’t need to like the same stuff.’

She also said: ‘His mum doesn’t speak English, and his brother isn’t that confident speaking it – the first time I met them alI couldn’t understand a word. 

‘It’s a bit unnerving. But now when he Skypes his mother in Siberia I can say a few words, or work out what they’re talking about.’  

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Oxford graduate shared she’s not quite ready to become a mother yet.

‘All my friends are getting pregnant at the moment. That’s good for them, but it’s currently not on my radar,’ she said in an exclusive interview in today’s Mail on Sunday Event magazine.

Dating: Pasha met girlfriend Rachel Riley when they were partnered up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2013 (pictured in October 2018) 

Dating: Pasha met girlfriend Rachel Riley when they were partnered up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2013 (pictured in October 2018)