Greg rebelled after struggles with his home life

Greg Rutherford might be an Olympic pin-up star and Strictly Come Dancing favourite these days but he’s come through some very difficult times to reach this point.

The 29-year-old athlete has opened up about his tough childhood and how it led him to rebel as a teenager – so much so that he even had some run-ins with the police.

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Greg’s troubles started as a young boy when he found it hard to accept the strict beliefs of his Jehovah’s Witness parents.

He says that the family didn’t celebrate Christmas, Easter or birthdays and he would become envious of his friends getting to enjoy the festivities.

‘I would be thrilled to receive ­birthday party invitations from friends and I used to go home and beg my mum Tracey to allow me to go,’ Greg explains in his new book, Unexpected.

‘Every time, the answer was the same: No. I used to plead with her: “I won’t sing Happy Birthday and I won’t eat the cake, I just want to play with my friends.” But it never worked.

‘The first time I went to a birthday party I was in my late teens.’

Although Greg respects mum Tracey and dad Andrew’s religious choices, he admits that it was heartbreaking to hear neighbours celebrating Christmas whilst he ­and his siblings ‘would sit in our house doing nothing’.

The sports star says that the Rutherford household was a ‘volatile place’ and claims his dad occasionally used violence towards him.

‘My parents would have blazing rows,’ the Strictly dancer alleges. ‘And far more often than I would have liked, I took the brunt of the fallout. Everybody argues and has the odd fight but for years it felt very explosive.

‘A smacking was easily dished out for any scrape my brother Rob and I got into. My parents’ reaction to ­something even moderately bad was to smack us.’

Relations with his parents are much better now thankfully and Greg says his dad is a ‘different person’ these days, plus he counts his mum as one of his ‘biggest supporters’.

But the tensions at the time led Greg to go off the rails as an adolescent.

‘One time I was so annoyed and angry that I punched my bedroom wall as hard as I could and split my knuckle. It summed up my frustration,’ he explains.

‘As far back as I can remember, I had this feeling of wanting to be reckless, to push the boundaries as far as I could.’

At the age of 12 Greg started drinking and staying out all night with friends and they’d even get chased by the police ‘every so often’. They also used to smoke and trespass.

Eventually things got so bad that he was showing up DRUNK for school aged 15 and started dangerously trying out car surfing.

‘Yes, this is a dumb thing to do. Yet I always did things that were risky. I developed a habit a friend christened ‘“going underground”,’ the sportsman admits.

‘I’ve got a fiery temper and the slightest annoyance can send me into the biggest rage – something I’ve ­inherited from my dad.’

Things came to an explosive head on Greg’s 23rd birthday when he ended up in a fist fight after getting into a disagreement with some lads in the same queue at KFC.

Since then Greg has settled down and is now a doting father to 2-year-old son Milo with partner Susie Verrill. He’s determined that his little boy won’t experience the same sorts of negative things that he did.

[GIF] Greg Rutherford

Despite this, Greg isn’t ashamed to admit to things he’s done wrong.

‘As a sports star, it’s drummed into you that you should try to be a role model, but I want to be honest about my past.,’ the red-haired star confesses.

‘You can be a total d***head yet still succeed. If you make one mistake, or even 100, it doesn’t mean you have screwed up for good.’

Unexpected: The Autobiography by Greg Rutherford is available from 3 November.