Sunday, September 5


There may well exist a line between a football player and a man, but it's nowhere near as thick as it once was. Post-David Beckham, footballers are no longer footballers. Successful ones, anyway. They're now celebrities, responsible for a whole lot more than just ensuring their team picks up three points every week. John Terry lost the England captaincy over his private conduct, and since we've had Ashley Cole and Peter Crouch humiliating themselves via plots of the same adulterous theme.

And now ultimately the biggest of them all has come to pass. Last December whilst at Manchester United's Carrington training base, a photographer informed me that she'd witnessed Wayne Rooney frequent the city's Lowry Hotel with a prostitute on more than one occasion, as his then-pregnant wife remained at home. Given his imbecilic previous, I bought it, but with a slight sense of doubt in the hope that he'd matured. Ten months later, said-prostitute has sold her story to the Sunday Mirror - and there's no question as to how big this is.

Of course I want all the United members to love each other dearly and have joyous, unruffled family lives. But that wouldn't reflect reality. I do still think that most footballers, perhaps like most men, treat their loved ones with decency and respect. It's just that real villains like Terry, Cole, Crouch and now Rooney tarnish the perception.

"The lifestyle I lead as a footballer means I am always in the spotlight," Rooney said earlier this year. I mean, the inanity of his actions is almost amusing, but certainly not for the people he's hurt. Don't get me wrong, I'll cheer Wayne Rooney the goal scorer. But never ever the man.

Nirvana 'Dumb'