Firass Dirani is Cleo Bachelor of the Year

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April 28, 2010 By AAP

Firass Dirani was virtually unknown until he started playing one of the country's most high profile nightclub owners on Underbelly.

Now the dynamic actor has been crowned the 2010 Cleo Bachelor of the Year.

Dirani, who plays Sydney identity John Ibrahim on the hit gangland crime drama, was announced the winner of the annual magazine competition at a party at Sydney's Zeta Bar on Wednesday night.

Despite being the favourite, Dirani said he never expected to win.

"I'm the outsider, I'm a long shot, they'll never give it to someone like me," Dirani told AAP just before the announcement.

More than 268,000 votes were cast, the most in the competition's history.

Dirani edged out Weekend Sunrise weatherman James Tobin, and Jarod Green, the man behind the online cartoon sensation Beached Az.

"It's exciting," Dirani said, adding that he had expected celebrity chef Curtis Stone to win.

"I'm happy just to be in the top 50, that was good enough for me...

"The whole thing is fun. It's good to be part of things like this. It's fun and games."

It's a welcome birthday present for Dirani, who turns 26 on Thursday.

"A little early birthday present is fun," he said.

Dirani has starred in films such as The Combination and television shows like East West 101.

But it's Underbelly: The Golden Mile that's pushed him into the limelight.

Dirani says he's been getting more female attention, but is still very much single.

"They glance more often than not, but there's no conversation yet, so maybe I still have to make the move," he laughed.

Dirani said he believed in "honesty, generosity, being sensitive and treating a woman like a princess" and desired a girl who had a "wicked sense of humour, amazing eyes and a beautiful smile".

Cleo editor Sarah Oakes said Dirani was the hot star of the moment, and deserved the win.

"Firass' story is very interesting because he was virtually unknown when the list of 50 was announced on March 15 and literally overnight, from that first episode going to air, he shot from the middle of the pack straight into the top 10," Oakes told AAP.

"The show is incredibly popular to our demographic and he's somebody new and exciting."

Runner-up Tobin, who's started dating since the shortlist was announced, said he was thrilled to be in the mix.

"Cleo bachelor is to men what Miss Universe Australia is to women without the sash, bikinis and fake tan and beautiful women," Tobin laughed.

The Cleo editor's pick was surfer Luke Cheadle.

Dirani follows in the footsteps of last year's winner, singer Axle Whitehead.

Aside from the title, Dirani wins a new car worth about $27,000.

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