The England player who caused Fabio Capello to lose his temper by texting on his phone during a squad dinner has been revealed as Emile Heskey. The Independent understands that the Aston Villa striker was spotted by the England manager during the recent international week breaking squad rules.
The England manager responded furiously when he saw Heskey texting and shouted at his entire squad, telling them that they had to respect the rules he had laid down for England camps. Phones are banned from meal-times, one of the many rules that Capello brought to the England set-up when he took over in January last year.
The latest incident is understood to have taken place in Ukraine, before the World Cup qualifier in Dnipropetrovsk in which Heskey played. After the 1-0 defeat, Capello's only one in World Cup qualifying, Heskey was left out of the squad for the final game against Belarus at Wembley. There has been no suggestion the incident cost Heskey his place in the team.
The dressing down from Capello was the talk of the England camp and, having been admonished by their manager, they are understood to have finished their dinner in silence. Capello demands that the squad be on time for meal-times and that they come in to the dining room together and leave it together.
The News of the World reported on Sunday the story of Capello's anger at a player using his phone at meal time, but the newspaper did not name the offending texter. The incident has been widely discussed among England players and it was only a matter of time before Heskey was outed as the man responsible for Capello's outburst.
It was also reported that Capello threw a metal tray against a wall in fury when he spotted Heskey texting. However, it is understood that his anger was not quite so well choreographed. Instead the England manager accidentally dropped the metal meal cover on his plate when picking up his dinner. Then when his players looked up at the noise, Capello spotted Heskey and began his haranguing.
Despite the nine wins in World Cup qualification, Capello has always been careful to keep his players in a tightly-controlled environment. He does not allow them to eat what they like on England trips and the only snacks available are fruit, not the chocolate bars once on offer. The control over what players can eat has led to rumours about secret supplies being smuggled inside their luggage.
The incident over the secret texter demonstrates that Capello is not prepared to give an inch on his rules as England gear up for the World Cup finals in South Africa. The importance that was once placed on finding a base that could keep the players amused – with Xboxs, table tennis, pool and darts – is no longer a priority. The South Africa base will be austere compared to the luxury of the Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe in the Black Forest near Baden-Baden in 2006.
Capello also does not allow music to be played aloud in the dressing room on an iPod speaker dock, as is common in many Premier League clubs, including Manchester United. Instead the players are only permitted to listen to their personal MP3 players using ear phones.