Frankie Dettori says he learned English by watching EastEnders as he opens up to Harry Redknapp on being bullied

FRANKIE DETTORI figured out his apple and pears from his stairs by watching EastEnders.

A 14-year-old Dettori came to England from Italy with dreams of being a top jockey in 1985 – the same year the BBC soap started.

And he learned the lingo by watching it religiously.


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Dettori, now 50, opened up on his early years in England in a podcast with Harry Redknapp.

The language barrier, being so far from home and suffering bullying made life tough for the eventual superstar jockey.

But he told Redknapp how he got a grasp of English from the TV show, which featured the likes of Dot Cotton and Dirty Den.

Dettori said: "It was very hard, the language barrier and obviously I was from Italy, so I was picked on and a bit bullied.

"The first three months was difficult because of the language and the food, everything.

"I was spending my life watching EastEnders.

"Then I shared a room with a Cockney guy and he used to teach me apples and pairs and sky rocket – I had no idea what he was saying."

But Dettori said being away from home had its benefits when he got settled here.

He added: "Then I got to 15 and the hormones kicked in and I started chasing girls.

"My dad asked me if I wanted to come back and I said, 'no dad!'"

Dettori caught the eye of ITV Racing presenter Francesca Cumani, daughter of famed trainer Luca, who Dettori lived with at first.

She said she swooned over him after seeing him take a bite out a ball of mozzarella.

Cumani said: "God, I used to think he was so cool and exotic.

"I have a lasting memory of him coming through the house and going to the fridge, grabbing a ball of mozzarella and just biting a chunk out of it.

"He was quite wayward when he was younger, and his talent needed nurturing in the right direction."


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