It’s tougher than you might think, being the wife of a football star. True, the relentless holidays, expansive collection of designer clothes and the luxurious mega mansions sound agreeable.
But spare a thought for Coleen Rooney. Because the downside, as she explains with barely concealed exasperation, is clear: you have to live with Wayne.
While her husband, the former England captain, is one of the most talented stars of the past decade, with a rumoured £82 million fortune to boot, it turns out he’s no help at all around the home.
For, when it comes to taking out the bins he’s nowhere to be seen. And if she needs a letter posted? Forget it.
His wife has even banned him from attending his own children’s football tournaments, because the international star commands so much attention that it upsets the kids.
Over the course of their 15-year relationship, Coleen has transformed from a gawky teenager in velour tracksuits to one of the country’s most photographed women
As she ruefully explains, with a dose of eyebrow-raising candour: ‘I don’t think that he uses his mind that much.’
It is a tale that will resonate with many weary wives (and husbands) across the country, yet this is an unusual glimpse behind the walls of £5 million Chateau Rooney in – where else? – Cheshire. The couple are currently building a £20 million replacement, complete with orangery, cinema, bar, wine cellar and separate lifts for guests and the family.
Over the course of their 15-year relationship, Coleen has transformed from a gawky teenager in velour tracksuits to one of the country’s most photographed women, with lucrative endorsement deals for clothing and jewellery lines. Yet she rarely gives interviews.
But it seems that today – in a bland conference room high up in Wembley Stadium – Coleen is feeling rather chatty.
Downstairs on the pitch, Arsenal and Chelsea are locked in a fierce battle for The Community Shield, the traditional opener to the new season. But this particular soccer mum shows little interest.
‘It’s boring,’ the 31-year-old confesses, preferring instead to moan about her husband and former childhood sweetheart.
Family man: Footballer Wayne Rooney with his three sons Kai, Klay and baby Kit
‘Wayne doesn’t put the rubbish out. He will put things away after himself. He’s not messy, he’s just… I can’t rely on him to do anything.
‘He forgets to do things I ask him. I’ll say, “Will you post that letter on the way to training?” A week later, the letter will still be in the car or his bag.’
She adds, as if we hadn’t got the picture by now: ‘He doesn’t help with the housework.’
If Coleen does, in fact, do all the household chores, it must be extremely time-consuming. Not only is she chatelaine of a sprawling pile, complete with swimming pool, gym, games room and Jacuzzi, she and Wayne also share it with their three young children – Kai, seven, Klay, four, and one-year-old Kit.
There are no nannies, she says, just Coleen’s mum Colette, who is on hand to help with the kids.
She continues, rolling her eyes: ‘Wayne makes me laugh, but some things that he thinks are funny I don’t. I keep him in line, I tell him if I don’t think something is right.
‘He’s funny and has a good sense of humour that people don’t really see as he is quite a private person. I don’t think they can figure him out.’
Labour of love: Wayne and Coleen have been together 15 years
She concedes he helps with the children, despite his domestic shortcomings, and will read bedtime stories ‘while I sort the baby out’.
So far, so familiar, yet there is little that is normal about their staggering wealth – a dramatic contrast with their childhoods in Croxteth, a notoriously rough part of Liverpool.
Their home is currently on the market as the Rooneys prepare to move into their new house – still under construction – described as ‘one of the most secure and architecturally advanced in the North West’.
Yet today there is little of the classic WAG on view. Her brunette hair is pulled back into a messy ponytail, there are no towering Louboutin heels, just some flat sandals, jeans and a flick of mascara and dab of lip gloss.
Indeed the WAG label isn’t one to which she takes kindly. ‘I thought it was all a bit stupid,’ she insists. ‘It was putting people into this category of “Oh, let’s all go to the shops”. It has all died down now, it’s gone.’
Not that she is against a bit of shopping – indeed she became famous for staggering home with piles of designer gear.
More recently, she has sported an impressive display of upmarket bikinis, shown to good effect on a recent holiday to Barbados, where the couple own a £5 million beachfront home.
How many bikinis does she own? She claims she doesn’t know, although ‘too many to count’ might be a better answer.
With so many holidays, a bit of beachwear is essential, after all. In the past few months alone, the couple have travelled to Portugal, Mykonos, Ibiza and Lake Como, with a Majorca trip planned for later this month.
Rooney spent 13 years at Manchester United, where he was eventually paid an estimated £300,000 a week, before moving back to his childhood club Everton this season
On home turf, Coleen has found herself in the less glamorous role of soccer mum, in charge of ferrying children to training and shouting from the sidelines. Kai is already showing early promise,
‘It’s not glamorous,’ she insists. ‘I have a car full of kids, taking them to training, every night after school.’
As the children are discovering, it’s not always easy having a famous father. ‘Tournaments can be a bit of a headache,’ Coleen explains.
‘One day, Wayne came to a match and he spent the whole time taking photos with kids, and at the end Kai said, “You never even saw me play!” So I ban Wayne now from matches because Kai gets upset.’
Coleen’s face lights up at the mention of her eldest son, and she says she is determined all her children will remain grounded, spending their time surrounded by friends and relatives, rather than with the celebrity acquaintances favoured by other footballing families.
‘We spend a lot of time together as things can be mad,’ she says. It’s also why, for the past three years, she has fronted McDonald’s Community Awards where she searches for the most inspirational ‘football mum’. She presented this year’s awards last week. ‘It’s lovely when I hear some of the stories of the other mums,’ she says. ‘Some have special needs teams, they have full-time jobs too – it’s so humbling.’
As the children are discovering, it’s not always easy having a famous father. ‘Tournaments can be a bit of a headache,’ Coleen explains. Pictured, the Rooney family enjoying a sunny beach holiday
Rooney spent 13 years at Manchester United, where he was eventually paid an estimated £300,000 a week, before moving back to his childhood club Everton this season, for around half the wages. He played his first game yesterday.
It has also emerged Rooney turned down highly lucrative deals to play in China’s Super League, although Coleen admits he came close enough to signing a contract that the couple went house-hunting in Shanghai.
There they viewed a huge, gated and very secluded complex with enough room to house both of their extended families, who would have moved with them for ‘moral support’. And, who knows, an army of cleaners.
With Rooney now 31, it is clear he has reached the final phase of his football career.
Yet if his playing days are numbered, it looks as though Coleen, with a car full of young boys, has several years of hard football labour to come. Not to mention taking out the bins.