Nobody can drag them down! Liam Payne’s love life is headed one direction – up.
E! News has confirmed that the One Direction singer, 22, is officially dating “The X Factor” judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, 32. The boyband heartthrob took to Instagram to post a picture of them together.
Fernandez-Versini, formerly known as Cheryl Cole, first met Payne in 2008 when he auditioned for the UK singing competition at age 14. He was unsuccessful then, but he tried out again in 2010. Payne wowed the judges with his “Cry Me A River” performance, but was chosen to be a part of One Direction instead of progressing as a solo artiste.
During his audition, Fernandez-Versini had nothing but praise for his vocals saying, “You’ve definitely got it, whatever “it” is, you’ve got it. I thought your voice was really, really powerful“. She went on to mentor singer Rebecca Ferguson (who dated Zayn Malik), while One Direction was under the mentorship of Simon Cowell.
Payne broke up with longtime girlfriend Sophia Smith last October after 2 years of dating. Meanwhile, Fernandez-Versini is currently in the middle of a divorce from her second husband, Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini. The two tied the knot in July 2014.
The UK newspaper The Sun, was the first to report on Payne and Fernandez-Versini’s romance, sharing that the pair became close after she signed with 1D’s management company, Modest. According to The Sun, their romance started to blossom in December last year, after “The X Factor” finale where 1D gave their final performance before going on their hiatus.
— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) February 28, 2016
An insider told The Sun that Fernandez-Versini has had a very tough few months and was deeply unhappy with her marriage. “But it’s not like she’s coming straight out of her marriage and into another relationship,” said the source. Friends of the couple shared that Fernandez-Versini appears transformed since dating Payne. “Cheryl is like a different person. She’s carefree and happy again,” the friend shared.
In the meantime, Fernandez-Versini has been helping Payne cope with his break from being a member of the biggest boyband in the world. “Liam was really struggling with the idea of life after the band to begin with — being in the spotlight and that level of fame had started to get to him. But he’s been so happy with Cheryl,” an unnamed friend said.
Despite a 10-year gap between the two, Payne and Fernandez-Versini have a lot in common. The couple even appear to have matching “his and hers” tattoos. The recent inked rose artwork on Payne’s hand appears to be a loving homage to the horticultural illustrations that adorn Fernandez-Versini’s lower back and bottom, The Guardian reports.
Previously on Valentine’s Day, Payne uploaded a picture of a single red rose on Instagram saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day baby…” with emoticons showing a wink and blowing a kiss.
Congratulations to the happy couple :)