rachel riley pasha kovalev

Rachel Riley's rare tribute to Strictly boyfriend Pasha Kovalev

The Strictly pair have been dating for four years

Sharnaz Shahid

She tends to keep her romance with Pasha Kovalev under wraps, but from time to time, Countdown star Rachel Riley finds she can't resist the urge to share a lovely snap with her Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer boyfriend. One of their most recent pics was when the pair were guests at Pup Aid's charity event towards the end of last year, where they cuddled up to an adorable pooch together. The sweet post came before anyone had any idea that Pasha's performance tonight on The Greatest Dancer would be his last because - shock horror! - he's quitting Strictly. 

Rachel Riley with Pasha Kovalev at Pup Aid

The pair first met each other when they were partnered together on BBC ballroom competition over five years ago for the 11th series. At the time, Rachel was in her first year of marriage to high school sweetheart Jamie Gilbert; the former couple announced their split in November 2013, following her appearance on the dancing show.

And Pasha left fans devastated last Wednesday after revealing his plans to leave the dance show. "After scoring 93 perfect tens, reaching 4 finals 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," he told his fans.

MORE: Strictly professional Pasha Kovalev reveals life change after seven years

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"I've had five 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," he added. "The biggest thanks go to all the members of the public who've supported me so much over the years - I look forward to seeing you on the Strictly Pro-Tour this spring, and for many future adventures to come!" 

Despite the slightly tricky Strictly end to their relationship, Rachel remains "good friends" with her ex James, but describes Pasha as "different, really different". She shared: "I was used to Essex boys growing up. Russian boys are a lot more gentlemanly and thoughtful. They will express their emotions a bit more. Even though you picture Russians as stoic, their language is really poetic."

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