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When Coleen Rooney took to social media in October 2019 to reveal she suspected someone close to her had been betraying her for years, little did she know the drama that lay ahead.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney had turned detective and noted that several stories on her private Instagram account had been sold on to the press by one of her 367 trusted followers.
No one expected what was to happen next. By the end of that intriguing post, the four words: ‘It’s……….Rebekah Vardy’s account’ set the internet alight. The post went viral and it sparked a sensational war of words between the two women.
Now, as the two footballers’ wives fight it out in the High Court, the #WagathaChristie hashtag is trending again.
For Vardy, 40, wife of Leicester footballer Jamie, the case – which is said to have already cost her £1m in legal costs – is about clearing her name. However, sources suggest that even if she loses and has to pay another multi-million pound bill, there will also be offers of interviews and a deluge of press interest.
Onlookers in #TeamRooney are also quick to point out that Vardy’s outfits for her big moment have included Chanel and Alexander McQueen. By contrast, Rooney, 36, arrived for day two of the trial in a more down-to-earth £32.99 Zara dress, despite owning a wardrobe packed full of designer clothes.
It is claimed that mother-of-four Rooney offered a settlement to the case six months ago, with each side paying their own costs but Vardy refused.
Now, some suggest that Rooney’s main aim in the trial is to prove that Vardy betrayed a sisterly code amongst the WAGs and that whatever happens, Rooney believes she will always have the moral victory.
“True female friendships need an implicit sense of trust and you need to know that your secrets will be safe,’ says psychologist Jo Hemmings. “For a woman like Coleen Rooney, that trust is even more vital because she’s living out her life in the public eye.
“Her relationship with Wayne has always been chequered and they will have secrets. Coleen needs to know that anything she shares with friends in private, will not be spread maliciously, and certainly not to the press. It’s the worst thing you could do and she really needs to know who has her back. I think she’s doing this to protect other WAGS as well."
For Vardy, this court case is perhaps a matter of pride. "She seems determined to diffuse this story and make herself less accountable so she can rescue her reputation," continues Hemmings. "When trust breaks down in a friendship, it really is a huge blow. You can’t underestimate the anger you feel."
Rooney, who was thrust into the limelight as a naïve 16-year-old schoolgirl dating the young Wayne, has always been wary of who she can trust.
As early as the 2006 World Cup, she noticed that the press was keen to portray England WAGs as women who were constantly caught in catfighting. She observed that: "It makes a better story to say there were divisions in the camp."
It is why she has always been notoriously private and discreet about who she adds to her ‘inner circle of trust’.
Naturally, her mother Colette, is her most precious confidante. Rooney once said: “My best friend is my mum. She is the first person I go to for advice.”
She has also stayed close to the same circle of friends she’s had since school. But in recent years, she is said to have broadened her friendship group to include Hollyoaks actress Davinia Taylor, former TOWIE star and WAG Georgina Cleverley, as well as several of The Real Housewives of Cheshire stars. All are said to have been welcomed into Rooney’s private Instagram account.
But since the latest breach of confidence, Rooney is said to be feeling even more wary and the whole saga has affected many of her fellow WAGs.
"It has caused huge tensions within my circle of friends," said Lizzie Cundy, a friend of Coleen’s and former WAG. "I’ve had fallings-out. I won’t name names but I have had rows with other footballers’ wives. It really has had a knock-on effect."
Relationship experts agree that trust issues can have a devastating effect on women's friendships in particular. “‘Most female friendships thrive on emotional connection and intimacy. We need that face-to-face interaction where we can cry over everything from motherhood to menopause,” says relationships psychologist Mairead Molloy.
“We like to share every little last detail about our lives with our real friends so trust is vital. Men’s relationships tend to be more transactional and based on shared experiences – whether it’s over a round of golf, a game of football or some other activity. And men often don’t need the same level of intimacy that women crave.”
Molloy says that when trust breaks down, it is particularly hurtful but it doesn’t need to spell the end of every friendship. “Of course, there are times when you hurt your friends, such as cancelling dinner at the last minute and you can be forgiven for that,” she says.
“But the sense of loss and betrayal you feel when someone shares a secret about you is very real. You begin to question yourself and ask yourself why you trusted them. Trust can be rebuilt over time and with lots of communication but I think those days are long gone for Coleen and Rebekah Vardy."
Watch: Rooneys and Rebekah Vardy arrive at court as 'Wagatha' trial continues