Strictly dancer Pasha Kovalev leaves show after eight series

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Pasha Kovalev has announced his departure from Strictly Come Dancing (Ian West/PA)

Strictly Come Dancing professional Pasha Kovalev has announced his departure from the programme after eight years.

The Latin and ballroom dancer has competed in four finals and lifted the glitterball trophy once, with Love Island host Caroline Flack in 2014.

The Russian said it is “time for me to find a new challenge”, before going on to thank the “public who’ve supported me so much over these years”.

Kovalev, 39, will not return for this year’s series of the flagship BBC One programme but will appear on the Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals tour this spring.

He said on Twitter: “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 8 fantastic years, full of wonderful memories, thanks to the incredible partners, professionals and myriad of behind the scenes teams who all work to make Strictly the amazing production that it is.”

The official BBC Strictly account tweeted: “Sadly after eight incredible series, the brilliant @PashaKovalev has decided to leave #Strictly. Pasha, from all of us, thank you for your amazing choreography and routines over the years. You’ll be sorely missed!”

Fellow Strictly professional Karen Clifton described Kovalev as an “all around gentleman and a fantastic dancer” as she bid him farewell.

She wrote on Twitter: “Gonna miss you so much @PashaKovalev an all around gentleman and a fantastic dancer to work with. Love you buddy.”

Kovalev leaves Strictly having found love on the programme with Countdown star Rachel Riley, whom he was partnered with on 2013.

Last year’s series saw him reach the final with Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts.

But their time on the show was marred by a backlash over Roberts’s past dance experience, and the couple found themselves in the bottom two on three occasions.