Andrew Flintoff: 'Wayne Rooney was just being normal, but in 2007 I got it wrong'

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, the former England cricketer defended Rooney's recent actions and insisted it has been 'a fuss about nothing'

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The Independent Online

An England captain caught up in a media storm after drinking whilst on international duty? It’s not the first time it’s happened and it won’t be the last according to Andrew Flintoff, who is well qualified to comment.

Wayne Rooney has endured two weeks of unwanted back-page revelations after The Sun published photographs of him looking worse for wear at England’s team hotel, 24 hours after the Three Lions comfortably beat Scotland at Wembley.

Every squad member was given the night off and while some chose to venture to London bars – or Bournemouth strip clubs – Rooney chose to stay in and was invited into a wedding party.

Former England cricket captain Flintoff, who has had his struggles with drinking and depression in the past, needed to be rescued from a pedalo in the early hours of the morning during the 2007 World Cup after a now infamous late-night drinking session following defeat to New Zealand the night before.

Rooney has since claimed he “actually did not step foot in that wedding”, and Flintoff, who was stripped of his vice-captaincy and suspended for a game after his incident, believes the 31-year-old was actually just being normal – something footballers are often criticised for not being enough.

“I don’t know the situation but the way I see it everyone gives footballers stick for whatever it may be, but it sounds like he was bring quite a good lad,” Flintoff told The Independent.

“He was in someone’s wedding, everyone said he looked so far removed from everyone but I thought he was just being normal. He’s going to a stranger’s wedding and they probably loved having him there. It’s just a fuss about nothing.”

He also distanced Rooney’s incident from his own, defending the England and Manchester United captain’s right to celebrate a win and going back to bed in the early hours, in comparison to how he finished his night in St Lucia.

“The difference [between my situation and Rooney] is that I got it wrong,” he added. “I’d gone out when I shouldn’t have gone out and got myself into a little bit of trouble.

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Flintoff defended the Rooney incident as 'normal'

“But Wayne… he’s not done anything wrong has he? He’s beaten Scotland, had a drink at a wedding and gone home – wow. He’s just done something very normal.”

Rooney, having been at the forefront of English football for 15 years, has made himself an obvious target for the press to write about, and Flintoff says his situation is similar to the one that Ben Stokes is going through at the moment.

Both have landed themselves in hot water because of, what Flintoff calls, “their fiery nature” and he believes it is a natural consequence when you’re a stand-out player in you sport.

Flintoff said: “There will always be people within sport that stand out more than others and are going to be the target of things, and people are going to write about them.

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Andrew Flintoff (R) with England captain Michael Vaughan during their World Cup game against Kenya at Beausejour Cricket Ground in Gros Islet, 24 March 2007 (Getty)

“It’s happened to Ben and I’m sure it will happen again.

“He’s the type of character who there will always be an easy story to write about him because he’s got that fire and looks to upset people.

“I was like that, but probably only off my own back to be fair!”

Freddie Flintoff is the brand ambassador for Jacamo, which features his own clothing range, Flintoff by Jacamo. His AW16 range is currently on sale and his SS17 range will be available in-store and online at Jacamo.co.uk from February 2017.

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