Paul Potts, the winner of this year's hit reality TV contest, Britain's Got Talent, is a cross between pop singer William Hung and Italian opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. The 36-year-old Welsh tenor's overnight success may sound like a fairytale but, in fact, the former mobile phone salesman has been honing his skills for decades as an amateur opera singer. But entering the talent search would change things forever. 'It was the first time I felt I had any chance of doing anything, once I got through to the last round of the competition,' said Potts, who was in Hong Kong recently to promote his debut album, One Chance, a collection of opera arias and pop songs. The album made it to No 1 on the UK Albums Chart, and is also a bestseller in Australia. Potts, who claims he was bullied at school and so lacked confidence, said singing was a form of escape. 'I feel safe when I start singing,' he said. Potts said he fell in love with opera when he was 11. 'I find opera affects me more emotionally than other forms of music. It's the way it can affect me inside that got me into it and classical music.' Potts - his fans affectionately call him 'Pavarpotti' - has never stopped performing as an amateur, and unpaid, opera singer, although a lack of self-esteem held him back from trying to turn pro. In 2000, he used his savings to attend a summer school in Italy to further his opera career. He attended language classes to master his Italian, and joined a singing masterclass with his hero Pavarotti. Potts was looking ahead with optimism to success in a music career, but in 2003, he was faced with one hurdle after another. First, there was the burst appendix. Then a tumour that turned out to be benign. And then there was the broken collarbone, sustained in a motorbike accident. 'After the injuries, I thought that was it. I never thought I would ever sing again. I didn't have the money to do it, and I didn't have the money to continue with my singing lessons,' Potts said. However, 2007 proved to be the year of opportunity and eventual glory. Six months ago, Potts attended an audition for Britain's Got Talent, performing Puccini's much loved Nessun Dorma. The judges and the audience of 2,000 were thrown by the contrast between Potts' awkward stage appearance and his pitch-perfect singing. He earned a standing ovation and moved one of the judges to tears. His performance has been one of YouTube's most viewed pieces of video footage. On winning, Potts was offered a record deal by the show's creator Simon Cowell. Potts said his win was a 'huge privilege', and that he was taking life one day at a time. 'Cowell has told me not to change, and to keep my feet firmly on the ground, which is something I intend to do. I am determined to stay the person I am,' he said. Potts said that his GBP100,000 prize money was still pretty much intact. 'I haven't spent very much of it at all. I am not material-minded. I don't drive, so it makes no sense for me to buy a car. I may eventually get some driving lessons, but the only thing I drive at the moment is my wife up the wall.'