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The ideal accessory for a wannabe-footballer's wife may not be a pair of Christian Louboutin heels but a good set of qualifications to fall back on, according to the Learning and Skills Council.

Of England's highest profile WAGs, at least 9 in 12 are known to have at least the minimum level of qualifications needed to get on in life (five good GCSEs or the vocational equivalent, such as a Level 2 diploma in Animal Care, Fashion Retail or Aerobic Instruction).

So rather than idealising WAGs for their glamorous lifestyles, the LSC is encouraging young people to follow their lead by gaining the minimum set of qualifications before leaving learning, whatever they aspire to be.

Top scorers for qualifications include Lisa Roughead (Michael Carrick), who holds a degree in business, and Michaela Henderson-Thynne, on-off flame of Stewart Downing, who is currently studying for a law degree at University.

Wayne Rooney's other half Coleen McLoughlin holds 10 GCSEs, while youngest member of the squad Melanie Slade (sweetheart of golden boy Theo Walcott) has recently passed her A-Level exams. Carly Zucker became a qualified personal trainer before meeting her boyfriend Joe Cole, while ex-Oasis manager and current girlfriend of Jermain Defoe, Charlotte Meares, holds A-Levels in psychology, performance arts and sociology.

Whilst ultimate WAG Victoria Beckham has succeeded despite leaving learning with a handful of GCSEs, the LSC is today warning that the odds of following in her footsteps are incredibly thin -- with, for example, the chances of being in a successful girl-band or winning X Factor less than one in 200,000

While dating a footballer may be an appealing route to fame and fortune, it's essential that all young people have the minimum set of qualifications "“ such as a Level 2 diploma or five A*-C GCSEs "“ to fall back on.

Girls" Aloud singer and footballer's wife Cheryl Cole recently criticised young women who aspire to the WAG epithet "“ but with previous research showing that one in 10 young women believe they"ll marry someone rich and a further one in seven feel confident that all they need to succeed is luck, the Learning and Skills Council is today reminding young people that without the minimum set of qualifications, the odds are stacked against them.

Julia Dowd, Director of Learning at the Learning and Skills Council, comments:"Many young people today believe that fame and fortune is possible without hard work, but what today's findings show is that whatever your chosen career, gaining the minimum set of qualifications is an important first step. There's no need to give up on your dreams, but the reality is that leaving your future down to chance could leave you unemployable or in a low-paid, dead-end job, so what we"re saying is that whatever it is you aspire to do, have a back up plan and gain the minimum set of qualifications "“ as so many of these young women have done."


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