The courtroom showdown between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy has had us all gripped as details unfolded during the £3million “Wagatha Christie” libel trial.
But after lawyers gave their closing statements at the Royal Courts of Justice in London last week, neither party is coming out on top, according to former WAG Lizzie Cundy.
“There haven’t been any winners here. The only winners are the lawyers,” 54-year-old Lizzie tells us. “Since this all began, so much has happened in the world. We’ve had a global pandemic and there’s a war going on in Ukraine. Was it really worth spending so much money in court?
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“We look at the likes of Dame Deborah James, who has raised millions for charity. It makes you question all the money that has gone to waste here. There are so many good causes it could have gone to instead.”
Lizzie believes the spat between her friend Coleen, 36, and Rebekah, 40, has caused irreparable damage in the footballing world.
“It has really split the football community,” says Lizzie, who was married to former footballer Jason Cundy for 16 years before they separated in 2010.
“There are people who were friends with them both who have now taken sides. Football was once called the beautiful game – I’m not sure it’s called that any more.
“I don’t think the community will ever be the same again. I think there’s now a huge mistrust and it feels venomous. After the text messages were shown in court, we know there’s been a lot of name calling. It’s a very different football world to what I knew. I feel sad about it.
“You’d think it would be a game of two halves, but actually, it hasn’t been, because some of the evidence is at the bottom of the North Sea with the missing phone,” she adds, referring to the mobile accidentally dropped into the sea by Rebekah’s agent.
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Reflecting on her own time as a WAG, Lizzie says the women usually looked out for each other.
“I’ve been in the football world for over 25 years, and it’s always been a world where we understood each other and had each other’s backs. It was a football bubble – we would be extremely loyal. If we were out and I went to the loo, the girls would be watching my seat next to Jason in case another girl would come over.
“They’d have my back, no matter what.”
It’s not only Coleen and Rebekah who have locked horns, either. Their husbands – Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy – were also caught in last week’s crossfire.
Derby County manager and ex-Manchester United player Wayne, 36, accused his former England teammate Jamie, 35, of “running scared”. Wayne said under oath that he had told Jamie to ask his wife to “calm down” during the 2016 Euros.
But the Leicester City player claimed Wayne was talking “nonsense”.
Lizzie adds, “Now their partners have seemed to turn on each other, too, which is very sad. I don’t know why it got this far. It will go down in history. I can see movies being made out of this.”
Coleen, who skipped the final day of court to jet off on holiday with her husband and their four sons, didn’t want the dispute to go to court, Lizzie claims.
“Coleen genuinely tried to stop this. She tried to stop it three times. She never wanted it to go this far.
“Nobody wants to be in court. It’s the most stressful, awful place to be – especially when the world is watching you.
“It could have been prevented. Was it really worth it? Rebekah, why didn’t you take Coleen’s olive branch?
“It is upsetting that Rebekah had to deal with the trolls throughout all of this. Coleen never wanted that.”
Coleen turned detective in October 2019, executing an elaborate sting operation by blocking all accounts other than Rebekah’s from viewing the Instagram Stories on her private account.
She then announced on Twitter, “It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account.” Rebekah has denied the claim and is suing Coleen for libel.
Lizzie questions whether Rebekah now has any regrets about taking the matter to court.
“I do wonder if she still thinks it was the right thing to do. I hope that she will reflect and ask if it was worth it,” she says. “I think it was so unnecessary. There was a chance to stop this, and I think she should have.
“I’m not sure what the driving force behind her wanting to go ahead with it was. Possibly because she just wanted to clear her name. I think maybe there was some jealousy there, too.
“These two girls are very different people. They’re both in the spotlight,” she adds. “Rebekah has done great shows, such as I’m A Celebrity… and Dancing On Ice, and has enjoyed the showbiz life. There’s nothing wrong with that.
“But Coleen has been with Wayne since she was 16, and she’s had to learn to live with it. She hasn’t ever courted it.
“Yes, they’re both family-oriented girls, but they’ve very different characters.”
Lizzie reiterates that the situation is “very sad”, but if there’s any good to come out of the court case, she believes it’s the fact that the marriages of both Coleen and Rebekah appear to have become stronger.
“If there are any positives to come from this, I think it’s how we’ve seen both partners supporting their wives,” she says.
“Coleen and Wayne have had their lows, which she discussed in court, and their highs. But they’ve always stuck by each other. We’ve seen Wayne really sticking by Coleen throughout this – and I think we’ve seen how much of a solid couple they really are.”
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