Girls wishing to follow in the footsteps of Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole by marrying footballers have been reminded of the importance of good grades.

The government agency responsible for skills in England says that behind every successful footballer is a Wag with qualifications to fall back on.

According to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), nine out of the 12 most famous English Wags have the minimum qualifications needed to get on in life - five good GCSEs or the vocational equivalent.

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

While Posh Spice may be regarded as the "ultimate Wag" she is actually the least qualified, the LSC says, with only a handful of GCSEs.

Girls wishing to emulate her 'success' have only a one in 200,000 chance of doing so, it warns.

Instead, the agency is urging potential Wags to take a leaf out of the book of either Michael Carrick's girlfriend Lisa Roughead, who has a business degree, or Stewart Downing's on-off flame Michaela Henderson-Thynne, who is studying law.

"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," commented LSC director of learning Julia Dowd.

"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."

Top ten Wags by qualifications (footballer husband)

1 Lisa Roughead (Michael Carrick)
2 Michaela Henderson-Thynne (Stewart Downing)
3 Emma Hadfield (Gary Neville)
4 Charlotte Meares (Jermain Defoe)
5 Melanie Slade (Theo Walcott)
6 Coleen Mcloughlin (Wayne Rooney)
7 Alex Curran (Steven Gerrard)
8 Carly Zucker (Joe Cole)
9 Toni Poole (John Terry)
10 Victoria Beckham (David Beckham)

24/10/2007 00:01:00