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KATIE HIND: My frosty encounter with the woman at the heart of Wagatha Christie court clash

As I approached Rebekah Vardy’s front door, her agent warned me she might not be the friendliest of interviewees.

I can’t say it came as a surprise.

After all, footballers’ wives hadn’t won a reputation for arrogance by accident. And, by all accounts, Rebekah was enjoying the trappings of her husband Jamie’s fame.

It was April 2017 and she was at the pinnacle of a rags-to-riches fairy tale. Jamie Vardy’s team, Leicester City, had just won the Premier League. 

The prolific England striker was reportedly on £100,000 a week, and the couple had bought a sprawling new home in Grantham, Lincolnshire, with a glistening array of Range Rovers parked on the drive. That year, Rebekah would clinch a lucrative gig starring on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity.

She’d gone from an events planner to queen of the WAGs in just three years, having met Jamie in 2014 when he was an unknown name plucked by Leicester from Fleetwood Town. There were even plans for a Hollywood biopic charting the couple’s meteoric rise. (Rebekah had started out as a nightclub cloakroom attendant.)

As I approached Rebekah Vardy’s front door, her agent warned me she might not be the friendliest of interviewees. I can’t say it came as a surprise. After all, footballers’ wives hadn’t won a reputation for arrogance by accident. And, by all accounts, Rebekah was enjoying the trappings of her husband Jamie’s fame

I’d been invited to their home to talk about a vegetable patch the then 34-year-old was proudly cultivating. She clearly wanted to be seen as a down-to-earth, homely wife with family values – ‘a real, normal person who cares for her kids’, in her own words – and not just another ‘diva’ WAG.

But the warning from her agent, Caroline Watt, was ringing in my ears.

As I took off my shoes – under instruction from a nervous Caroline – I greeted Rebekah with a smile. I can still remember her slightly frosty response: no courteous hello, just a look up and down before sending me off to play with her two-year-old daughter Sofia until she was ready.

After what seemed like hours pushing the delightful toddler’s tricycle around the wooden living room floor, I was summoned to the vegetable patch, where Rebekah was accompanied by a handsome gardener. There was no thank you for my babysitting duties.

For Rebekah is at the centre of a court battle with fellow WAG Coleen Rooney, pictured, accused by the former England captain¿s wife of leaking stories to The Sun newspaper about famous acquaintances

For Rebekah is at the centre of a court battle with fellow WAG Coleen Rooney, pictured, accused by the former England captain’s wife of leaking stories to The Sun newspaper about famous acquaintances

She and daughter Sofia were dressed in expensive matching Barbour jackets, supplied for the photoshoot by The Mail on Sunday. Rebekah was happy to keep them.

She spoke admirably about how she wanted her children to eat fresh vegetables before sharing her disdain for the term WAG – a phrase coined in the mid-2000s when footballers’ wives were rarely out of the headlines.

Today, that wholesome image I was helping to cultivate is crumbling as quickly as it was crafted.

For Rebekah is at the centre of a court battle with fellow WAG Coleen Rooney, accused by the former England captain’s wife of leaking stories to The Sun newspaper about famous acquaintances. Last week, it emerged during a pre-trial hearing that Rebekah had tried to sell a story about her husband’s Leicester team-mate, Danny Drinkwater, who was arrested for drink-driving.

The court heard of a text from Rebekah to her agent Caroline that read: ‘I want paying for this.’

Sources in football believe Jamie Vardy’s brand has been tarnished by the circus around his wife.

The striker – who as recently as 2014 was working in a factory to subsidise his football wage – must deal with fellow professionals knowing she wanted to profit from his team-mate’s demise. It could even impact his transfer appeal, sources say.

Indeed, both Jamie and Coleen’s husband Wayne were determined to stay out of the bitter dispute. Yet on Thursday it emerged that Wayne may appear in the witness box, where he would be questioned under oath over how much he knew about his wife’s ‘Wagatha Christie’ investigation into the stories that were allegedly leaked to The Sun.

The Mail on Sunday has been told that Rebekah and Caroline, often described as being ‘as thick as thieves’ and ‘the very best of friends’ are ‘at war’. They rarely speak, say friends.

‘Caroline did everything for Becky,’ said one. ‘She was hugely loyal and would support her to the hilt.’

Once Rebekah warmed up at our interview in 2017, she spoke about how she wanted to earn her own money rather than rely on Jamie. Two of her five children – Megan, 16, and Taylor, 11 – are from a previous relationship. 

‘Jamie’s money shouldn’t have to support them,’ she told me. Does that explain why she would want paying for stories supplied to red-top papers?

Yet as I sat in the Vardys’ open-plan kitchen while she breastfed her baby son Finley and FaceTimed her doting husband Jamie (who was away in Europe for a match), Rebekah seemed a picture of contentment.

Having grown up on a council estate, she had to leave home at 15 after falling out with her mother.

But now her father, Carlos, was there for her – along with helpers at her beck and call. A driver would pick up friends from the station. Others did odd jobs.

On this day, she even had a tea girl – me! Shortly before I left, Rebekah asked me to put the kettle on (though she may have regretted it after I accidentally spilled green tea on the swish kitchen surface).

Most importantly, she had Caroline. A former Virgin Atlantic air hostess, herself married to a former professional footballer, Caroline spent years helping to create brand Rebekah.

She never left Rebekah’s side throughout my visit, shielding her from tricky questions. Caroline was not only her PR, agent and brand manager but her confidante and sounding board. I watched as Caroline listened to Rebekah’s groans about Jamie being away and sought her counsel on parenting.

Caroline followed Rebekah’s orders dutifully and oozed respect for her boss.

As we caught the train home, Caroline couldn’t have spoken more glowingly of her friend.

She would lie down in front of a bus to protect her. Now, as she emerges as a central character in the Wagatha Christie libel battle, those close to Caroline say she feels like she’s been thrown under one.

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