“I NEVER knew losing weight would have this many perks.”

Those are the words of a young Hampshire man who shed more than six stone and got the chance to meet a former Saints star.

Lewis Corfield from Southampton has scored big in a competition to find the UK’s top male slimmers, where he met international football star Wayne Bridge.

The 24-year-old slimmer was one of just 38 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2017 after losing an impressive 6st 12lbs.

It was there that he was congratulated by the former Southampton, Chelsea and England hero.

Lewis, who went from 21st 1.5lbs to 14st 3.5lbs at the Hedge End Slimming World, said: “It took quite a lot for me to admit that I had a weight problem to begin with, so actually deciding to do something about it and join my local Slimming World group was another big step.

Thankfully I came to the conclusion that my health and happiness was the most important thing and plucked up the courage to go along that first time. My only regret now is that I didn’t join sooner.”

He continued: “I was a bit concerned I’d have to survive on a bit of salad! I couldn’t have been more wrong though, I eat just as much as before now, if not more.

““I did worry that I’d be the only bloke in the room, I wasn’t though. And, even if I ever was, it wouldn’t matter because everyone is there for the same reason and it’s such a supportive and friendly environment.

“It’s even encouraged me to think about how active I am too, so I’ve taken up badminton, which I play weekly with my work friends. I also enjoy going for walks on the weekend. Getting to meet Wayne was great too, I never knew losing weight would have this many perks.”

Wayne, who has now hung up his football boots and appeared on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! said: “As a footballer, health and fitness has formed a huge part of my life, so I know how much effort and dedication it can take to stay fit and healthy – both mentally and physically.

“It was a pleasure to meet Lewis and I can’t believe his transformation, he doesn’t look like the same bloke!

“I really have to take my hat off to him for recognising that he had a problem and then having the courage to do something about it. I think many people would be guilty of thinking that going to a slimming club isn’t very manly so that makes it even harder for men to take that first step. He’s definitely a top bloke in my book.”