Ronan Keating says the late George Michael has been the biggest influence on his life.

Ronan Keating

Ronan Keating

The Boyzone frontman was a huge fan of the 'Careless Whisper' hitmaker - who passed away in December 2916 - when he was growing up and was pleased to call him a friend and mentor later in his life.

He said: "The most influential person in my life had been George Michael.

"He was very important to me and was one of my musical heroes growing up.

"Then he became a friend and mentor and someone I'd lean on."

The 42-year-old star still struggles to "understand" the deaths of his beloved mother Marie and former bandmate Stephen Gately.

He said: "The toughest challenges I've faced are the deaths of my mother and Stephen Gately.

"My mum had cancer so you're kind of building walls and preparing to protect yourself, but with Stephen it was so out of the blue.

"He was so young - it was the craziest thing ever in our lives. It's still hard to understand."

The 'Life is a Rollercoaster' hitmaker was just a teenager when he found fame and he wishes he'd enjoyed the early years a bit more than he did at the time.

He told new! magazine: "I'd tell my 16-year-old self don't take yourself so seriously and just have fun.

"I worked hard in making sure the band worked, but those six years went by in the blink of an eye and I wish I had enjoyed it a bit more."