Wayne Rooney says FA wanted Rebekah Vardy to calm down
Wayne Rooney was asked by his then England manager Roy Hodgson to ask his teammate Jamie Vardy to get his wife to “calm down” the High Court has heard.
Mr Rooney’s wife Coleen is being sued for libel by Rebekah Vardy, who denies Mrs Rooney’s accusation that she leaked private information about her.
On Tuesday, Mr Rooney said Mr Hodgson told him the Football Association (FA) wanted to avoid “problems and distractions” at Euro 2016.
Jamie Vardy attended court on day six.
“They asked me, as captain, would I be able to speak to Mr Vardy on issues regarding his wife and I think we all knew that it was an awkward subject,” said Mr Rooney, referring to Mr Hodgson and his then assistant Gary Neville.
“I’d need to speak to Mr Vardy and ask him to speak to his wife and ask him to say to ask his wife to calm down.”
“Ask his wife to calm down?” queried Mrs Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson. “She wasn’t dancing on tables…”
“No, she wasn’t, as far as I’m aware,” Mr Rooney replied. But he said there there had been negative media coverage relating to Mrs Vardy’s Euro 2016 column in the Sun.
England’s all-time record goalscorer said he “carried out that instruction” to have a word with his teammate and said it was Mr Vardy’s business if the message was relayed to Mrs Vardy or not.
He said it “wasn’t my place to speak to Mrs Vardy” directly but that he had “100%” passed the message on to his teammate.
“It was an awkward situation for me and I’m sure it was an awkward situation for Mr Vardy, but I felt it was in the best interests of the team,” Mr Rooney said.
“As England captain I would always try and protect the players in public as much as I could,” he continued.
He added that the Leicester City striker, who was absent from the court proceedings until Tuesday, was not someone “I have ever particularly been friends with on a social level”.
Mr Rooney said Mrs Vardy was “almost there with the team” during the tournament in France.
He alleged that she had been calling her husband on FaceTime while the players were hanging out together during their down-time.
Mrs Vardy’s libel action was sparked by a viral social media post from October 2019, in which Mrs Rooney said she had carried out a sting operation to find out who had been passing private information about her life to the Sun.
She said the fake stories she had posted on her Instagram stories in an effort to find the perpetrator had only been viewed by “Rebekah Vardy’s account”.
Mrs Vardy has continually denied leaking the stories in question to the press.
Mrs Rooney was christened “Wagatha Christie” by many people online as a result. Wag is a term used to describe the wives and girlfriends of footballers.
In court on Tuesday, Mr Rooney said he had “never discussed it [the sting operation] really” with his wife and that “this trial is the first time I’m hearing almost everything in this case.”
“It’s been a long week,” he said.
“For me and my wife, we don’t want to be in this court. I have watched my wife over the past two years really struggle and become a different mother and different wife.
“Whatever the judgment is me, my wife and children can go on with our lives because it’s not something we want to be part of.”
The court heard Mr Rooney had never had a personal relationship with any journalist from the Sun newspaper.
“Everyone knows the history between Liverpudlians and The Sun newspaper [referring to the coverage of the Hillsborough disaster], I never spoken to a Sun journalist on a personal level.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Mrs Rooney’s cousin Claire Rooney gave evidence.
In her witnesses statement, Claire Rooney noted that she was incorrectly referred to as being “Wayne’s chavvy sister” during a WhatsApp exchange between Mrs Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt.
Mr Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford told the court that his client had raised the issue of his wife facing leaks of her information in 2017.
“He [Wayne] mentioned Coleen was extremely upset regarding leaks about her private information and she was in a position where she didn’t know who to trust and was extremely upset,” Mr Stretford said, adding he did not discuss the matter with Mrs Rooney and did not know about her online sting operation.
Mr Stretford denied arranging for staged paparazzi photos to be taken of Mrs Rooney, as Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt had claimed.
In his witness statement he said he “never got the impression that [Mrs Rooney] is particularly bothered about fame or even putting herself out there”.
He described her as being a “very private person”, who would not share her feelings with many people.
The trial continues.
Read more about what happened in the trial so far
- The other players in the Vardy v Rooney trial
- Texts between Vardy and agent were evil – Rooney
- Coleen Rooney: My online post was a last resort
- Vardy appears to accept agent leaked Rooney information
- Vardy admits trying to leak story about footballer Drinkwater
- Rebekah Vardy tells court she didn’t leak stories
- Vardy evidence ‘lost or destroyed’, court told