Why Tom Zanetti’s work ethic should inspire teenagers in Leeds today - Opinion
"When I get to these things I think ‘this is what I’ve worked towards’. Despite what’s happened, despite the knock backs, despite being bankrupt and homeless, losing people I loved. I’ve got there because I’ve worked for it."
Those are the words of Leeds born DJ Tom Zanetti, who spoke candidly to our reporter Abbey Maclure in today’s issue.
From the ginnels of Gipton to the affluent streets of Chelsea; Tom Zanetti is a man who has defied the expectations of his humble upbringing to become a huge national success.
Unapologetically himself, Zanetti, already a well-known name here in Leeds, charmed the nation with his silly antics and broad Yorkshire accent on E4’s Celebs Go Dating.
But it is no coincidence, he says, that he has seen this level of success.
Instead it comes after years of hard graft and picking himself up after setbacks.
In the interview, Zanetti, who grew up in Gipton with his three siblings and his single mum, opens up about his background and explains how he almost went down the wrong path.
Zanetti said: “I grew up with nothing but love. My mum was a single mum with three kids, living in a council house and juggling whatever job she could get.
"We shared each other's clothes, we didn’t have any sort of money.
“It was quite a rough area, I was around a lot of criminal activity and when I was about 14 I started getting involved in silly things."
Thankfully, circumstances forced his life onto another trajectory, when he was kicked out of school and became a father to son Deaconn, at just aged 16.
From there began his long graft to become the well known, international music sensation he is today - topping the charts with 2016 hit ‘You Want Me’ and appearing on posh reality show Made In Chelsea with new beau Sophie Hermann.
Now 31, and despite the success he’s seen over the last decade, Zanetti still calls Leeds his home and works hard to support his community, delivering food parcels to struggling families and helping homeless people get back on their feet.
His story and his work ethic should inspire many in Leeds, who will be able to see themselves mirrored in Zanetti.
Despite his celebrity status, he remains at the heart of it, a down-to-earth Leeds lad who readily admits that life could have taken a dark turn.
Instead he rejected that life, putting the work in for the sake of himself and his son, and he hopes that speaking honestly about his choices will inspire other teenagers in a similar situation to follow in his footsteps.
“If you come from a place that I come from, it’s easy to see all the lads selling drugs and robbing houses to make easy money," he said.
“Just don't do it. Stay in school and work out what you want to be.
"Whether that’s an astronaut, a special agent, a scientist or a doctor - whatever it is, if you sit it out and school and make it happen, you’re gonna do it.”