As I approached Rebekah Vardy’s front door, her agent warned me that she might not be the friendliest of interviewees.
I can’t say it was a surprise.
After all, soccer wives didn’t acquire a reputation for arrogance by accident. And, clearly, Rebekah appreciated her husband Jamie’s trappings of fame.
It was April 2017 and she was on the peak of a rags-to-riches fairy tale. Jamie Vardy’s side Leicester City had just won the Premier League.
The prolific England striker is reportedly on £100,000 a week and the couple had bought a sprawling new home in Grantham, Lincolnshire, with a gleaming array of Range Rovers parked in the way. That year, Rebekah would land a lucrative gig on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity.
She had gone from event planner to queen of WAGs in just three years, having met Jamie in 2014 when he was an unknown name chosen 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 coat check attendant at a nightclub.)
As I approached Rebekah Vardy’s front door, her agent warned me that she might not be the friendliest of interviewees. I can’t say it was a surprise. After all, soccer wives didn’t acquire a reputation for arrogance by accident. And, obviously, Rebekah appreciated her husband Jamie’s trappings of fame.
I had been invited to their home to talk about a vegetable garden that the 34-year-old proudly cultivated. She clearly wanted to be seen as a down-to-earth, welcoming wife with family values — “a real, normal person who takes care of her children,” in her own words — and not just another WAG “diva.”
But the warning from his agent, Caroline Watt, rang in my ears.
As I took off my shoes – under instructions from a nervous Caroline – I greeted Rebekah with a smile. I still remember his somewhat icy response: no courteous hello, just an up and down look before sending me off to play with his two-year-old daughter, Sofia, until she was ready.
After what felt like hours of pushing the toddler’s charming tricycle across the wooden floor of the living room, I was summoned to the vegetable garden, where Rebekah was accompanied by a handsome gardener. There were no thanks for my babysitting duties.
Car Rebekah is at the center of a court battle with fellow WAG Coleen Rooney, pictured, accused by the ex-England captain’s wife of leaking stories to The Sun newspaper about famous acquaintances
She and her daughter Sofia were dressed in expensive matching Barbour jackets, provided for the photo shoot 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 rarely made headlines.
Today, that wholesome image that I helped cultivate is crumbling as fast as it was designed.
Because Rebekah is at the center of a legal 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 at a preliminary hearing that Rebekah had tried to sell a story about her husband’s Leicester team-mate Danny Drinkwater, who was arrested for drunk driving.
The court heard of a text from Rebekah to her agent Caroline that read, “I want to pay for this.”
Football sources believe Jamie Vardy’s brand has been tarnished by the circus around his wife.
The forward – who worked as recently as 2014 in a factory to subsidize her footballing salary – has to deal with fellow professionals knowing she wanted to cash in on her team-mate’s disappearance. It could even impact his transfer call, sources say.
Indeed, Jamie and Coleen’s husband, Wayne, was determined to stay out of the bitter argument. Yet on Thursday it emerged that Wayne could appear on the witness stand, where he would be questioned under oath about what he knew about his wife’s ‘Wagatha Christie’ investigation into the stories allegedly leaked to The Sun.
The Mail on Sunday has been told that Rebekah and Caroline, often described as ‘thick as thieves’ and ‘the best of friends’, are ‘at war’. They rarely speak, say friends.
“Caroline did everything for Becky,” said one. “She was extremely loyal and would support her all the way.”
Once Rebekah warmed up during our 2017 interview, she explained that she wanted to make her own money rather than relying 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 this explain why she would want to pay for articles provided to successful newspapers?
Yet, as I sat in the Vardys open kitchen while she nursed her baby son Finley and FaceTimed her doting husband Jamie (who was in Europe for a game), Rebekah seemed a picture of contentment.
Having grown up in an HLM, she had to leave home at 15 after falling out with her mother.
But now her father, Carlos, was there for her – with helpers at his disposal. A driver was picking up friends at the station. Others did odd jobs.
That day, she even had a tea girl – me! Shortly before I left, Rebekah asked me to put the kettle on (although she may have regretted it after accidentally spilling green tea on the kitchen surface).
More importantly, she had Caroline. A former Virgin Atlantic flight attendant, herself married to a former professional footballer, Caroline spent years helping to create the Rebekah brand.
She never left Rebekah throughout my visit, shielding her from sensitive matters. Caroline was not only his PR, agent and brand manager, but also his confidante and sounding board. I watched Caroline listen to Rebekah’s moans about Jamie’s absence and ask her advice on parenting.
Caroline dutifully followed Rebekah’s orders and exuded respect for her boss.
As we rode the train home, Caroline couldn’t have spoken more highly of her friend.
She lay down in front of a bus to protect her. Now, as she emerges as a pivotal figure in the Wagatha Christie libel battle, Caroline’s loved ones say she feels like she’s been thrown under one.