By Kevin Koczwara
Life won’t be getting any easier for Wayne Rooney in the next few weeks, in fact, life will be a little more difficult for the Manchester United and England forward as more stories come out about his extramarital affairs. This is part of being a famous athlete these days: you make the millions and you have to deal with the pressure of the public and the press.
It’s no secret that professional athletes, movie stars and just about anyone in the entertainment industry have affairs. It is almost understood by now that it happens. Last year’s Tiger Woods’ story was the media’s big story of the year, and why not? The public feasted on the allegations and the sexual preferences of the world’s single most popular sports icon.
English National Team players seem to have garnered a lot of this type of attention in recent years. They have become adept at creating news stories not about their skill on the field, but about their talents off.
John Terry was scorned during the build up to the World Cup for his misgivings. Terry slept with former teammate Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend while Bridge and his ex were dating and Terry was his teammate. Because of all the negative media attention, Terry was relieved of his duty as England’s captain.
Bridge was asked by England manager Fabio Capello if he would like to play left back for England after Ashley Cole (we will get to him later) injured himself, Bridge denied the request because he could no longer play alongside Terry, and his teammates at Manchester City stood by the 30 year old. But the story lost legs as the World Cup approached and then really fell out of sight when Robert Green fumbled into the goal against the U.S., and the team was blown away by Germany in the first knockout round.
Terry isn’t the only Chelsea and England international to find some time for some extra fun on the side.
Terry’s teammate Ashley Cole reportedly slept with women who were not his wife while Chelsea toured the United States last year. Cole’s story was a blurb on the press’ radar despite his wife being one of the world’s most beautiful women and one of the player’s alleged affairs happened with an opponent’s employee. Cole’s infidelities were lost in the mix of the Tiger Woods scandal (what wasn’t?).
And now Rooney finds himself in the same boat as Cole and Terry, except that he is a talismanic figure of the future for England and fans see him as a player to look up to: working class, tough, feisty and passionate about the sport.
Rooney was different than all the other soccer players in England, he married his high-school sweetheart, he doesn’t go around with WAGs and move from one supermodel to the next. He was just a regular guy playing soccer like most people dream.
Now, Rooney will have to make amends with all of the parents he let down, because surely many of his younger fans won’t understand the situation or have it explained to them. He will have to show his adoring public in Manchester and much of England (when he isn’t wearing the dreaded United kit) that he isn’t as bad as the press is making him out to be. To do that will be difficult, very difficult. I don’t know how you can explain sleeping with women that are not your wife while she is pregnant.
Rooney had a remarkable season last year for United, but his disappointing performance at this summer’s World Cup for the Three Lions looked to carry over as poor luck on the field into this Premier League Season. Now, we may have some answers as to why he was struggling: his mistresses were talking to the press and rumblings of his unfaithful activities were beginning to bubble.
The next step for Rooney has to be how he will react to the attention he is getting for all of the wrong reasons. Will Rooney pick up his pants by the belt buckle and show the world he is a mature 25-year-old star in charge of his life?
He will need to work out his personal life, quickly, and put it behind him when he is on the field, which could be his only escape from the pressures of the world.
As for the public, we will need to accept the vices of our superstars. No one is perfect, and money and fame amplify the mistakes of the famous. Athletes have long been rumored to have extramarital affairs and drinking problems, we just didn’t always hear about them. Stories like Rooney’s aren’t the first and his won’t be the last. It will just be a trend until the next star slips up and forgets he is being watched.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org