kevin joanne clifton

Kevin Clifton's sister Joanne reflects on Strictly champion's 'tough' year with sweet throwback

Kevin Clifton and Stacey Dooley were crowned Strictly 2018 champions

Sharnaz Shahid

Former Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton was overcome with emotion when her brother Kevin Clifton lifted up this year's Glitter ball trophy - so much so that she took to Instagram to share a sweet tribute, in which she reflected on Kevin's "tough" year. "Still tearing up this morning seeing this picture..," she wrote on Sunday. "What a year he's had... I can't even tell you just how much last night meant for him." Heaping praise on his dance partner Stacey Dooley, she added: "@sjdooley I can't thank you enough! Just for being so incredible, working so hard, just being your bubbly happy self! And bloomin' going and WINNING it!!!"

Joanne Clifton heaped praise on her brother Kevin Clifton after his Strictly win

It's been two years since Joanne was crown champion alongside Ore Oduba, the same year she bowed out of the series - she has since been voicing her support for her brother. Sharing a sweet throwback childhood snap of the pair, the former professional dancer added: "WE DID IT MUM AND DAD! @keviclifton ..... Thankyou @sjdooley and @oreodubaofficial." Ore, 33, also took to his social media account to congratulate Kevin on his sensational win. "If I could jump through the telly and hug this man like he hugged @realjoanneclifton two years ago," he wrote. "No one has given more to @bbcstrictly in six years than @keviclifton," the star added. "I'm so so happy for one of the most talented, creative, and determined people I know. And alongside an inspirational partner, Stacey you have been amazing. As for King Kev... FIVE finals and finally a Strictly Champion. You deserve it mate. Every second of it! #strictly."

READ: Kevin Clifton reveals real reason he wanted Stacey Dooley on Strictly from start

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However on the night, all eyes were on Kevin's estranged wife Karen Clifton, who ran over to the pro dancer the moment he and were announced winners. She gave her former partner a hug, and yelled, "You did it!" into his ear, leaving viewers emotional. "So proud and extremely happy for you guys," she later wrote. "Kev - 5x finalist and you finally did it!! Your hard work, patience and pure brilliance paid off. So proud of you x. Stacey - you are what Strictly is about girl!! My hero x. Love you both..."

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Karen and Kevin have long been fan favourites and news of the end of their marriage was announced in a first post-split interview in HELLO! magazine in March. But the duo have impressed fans ever since the sad news was released, as they managed to maintain a close friendship and working relationship despite what must have been difficult times.

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