VIDEO: Wiganers have a World Cup in sight

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Never mind Gareth Southgate’s highly-paid charges, a down-to-earth duo from Wigan could be a more realistic bet for World Cup glory.

Fleet-footed Benjamin Just and Leonie Hellman are jetting out to Barcelona for one of the dancing universe’s premier gatherings, which begins on Friday.

Young dancers Ben Just and Leonie Hellman

Young dancers Ben Just and Leonie Hellman

And just like the Three Lions, the victors will have to overcome a wealth of international competition, with 54 nations listed to compete across more than a dozen disciplines.

The pair will form part of the Liverpool-based Studio 76 Academy team, which has been selected to represent England at the Sitges event.

Benjamin, 17, from Marsh Green, who used to attend The Deanery High, said: “We’ve both been in plenty of competitions before but never anything like this.

“We want to show the world what we’re all about in Wigan.

“For this we’re part of a larger group but me and Leonie have been dancing together for a while.”

As part of their outfit, the finals will test their abilities across a range of styles, from street dancing and lyrical to commercial and hip-hop.

Leonie’s mum Amanda, from Shevington, added: “It’s great for Leonie and Ben to be going out there - they’re like brother and sister.”

For 10-year-old Leonie, it’s another step on her road to fame and fortune, after she secured a finallist spot in last year’s Teen Star competition.

She has already been scouted for former X Factor star Gareth Gates’ drama school and has a raft of opportunities to progress.

“We’ve met so many nice people through Leonie dancing, travelling around all over the place,” added Amanda.

“But the competition is very tough, where-ever we go.

“We’re really looking forward to Barcelona and what they’re going to be up against.”

Performing since she was aged just three, Leonie has also recently been involved with soap star turned singer Jennifer Ellison.

Currently in its 10th year, the Dance World Cup will be broadcast live online, with the likes of Macau, Jersey, Indonesia and Sri Lanka among the more exotic entrants pencilled in.

Competitors are aged from four to 25 and some of the more traditional callings, such as classic ballet, tap and song and dance are also catered for by organisers.