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Love Island winner and ex-EFL player fears being banned from football

Finn Tapp was on the books of Milton Keynes’ Dons before he found fame, love and fortune in the Love Island villa in the 2020 edition of the popular ITV reality show

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Love Island’s Finn explains why bizarre first date with Paige was filmed in silence

A former Love Island winner who was on the books of MK Dons for more than a decade fears being ostracized from football due to his association with the reality show.

Finn Tapp joined the Dons aged eight and after progressing through the ranks he would go on to make a handful of senior appearances before being released in 2019.

He then had a brief spell at non-league Oxford City before finding fame, love and fortune in the hugely popular ITV show in early 2020. He and partner Paige Turley won the show’s first-ever winter edition in South Africa, scooping a £50,000 prize pot to share.

But as he plots a route back into football, the 22-year-old has opened up about his struggles to find a new club and the “stigma” attached to stars of reality TV.

Speaking to The Sun, Tapp said: “With a lot of things going into a show and coming out of it, it’s a double-edged sword. Because you get the Instagram following and fanbase, some might think you go into a (football) club and that might mean you get a few more tickets sold.

“But I think there is a stigma attached to reality TV stars. People might think, ‘Oh he’s the Love Island guy’. They might forget what I did before the show, that I had ambitions of being a player. I don’t I want to be known as the person in the changing room who is playing just because of the show.

Paige Turley and Finn Tapp were winners of Love Island in 2020

Tapp admits to having experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, from elation after signing his first professional contract with the Dons in 2018 to despair after being released 12 months later.

He rekindled his love for the sport after Oxford City took a punt on him, but the club were understandably unhappy at the manner and timing of Tapp’s departure in early 2020. He confesses he had to take the risk once offered a spot on the cult series .

Finn Tapp (centre) during one of his appearances for MK Dons back in 2018

“When Love Island came along, it was a once in a lifetime experience that I knew I had to go for,” Tapp said. “My thinking was I might get to the end of the season and Oxford might let me go.

“It was one of those, the opportunity came up, and I had to take it. When I started applying, I never thought I’d get on the show. I was 20 at the time, and if it didn’t pan out I could still go back and play semi-pro. There was a lot more reward to the risk.”

Tapp spent 11 years at MK before his release in 2019

Tapp and Paige remain a couple, two years after their win on the ITV reality show

For now, Tapp is going into clubs and offering advice to talented young players about the potential pitfalls they may face after being thrown into the deep end in senior teams.

He adds: “I want to get to more football clubs and help, but I don’t want to come across as that negative man who didn’t make it as a footballer. It has to be relatable. And it’s not a case of you won’t make it, it’s more about this is what you can do to help yourself succeed.”

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