Wayne Rooney has admitted he ‘made a mistake and apologised to his family and Derby County after photos emerged of the star partying and falling asleep in a hotel room with young women.
The married father-of-four, 35, said he was ‘looking forward to moving forward’ just hours after he paid the three-party girls £1 to buy the copyright to the images after accusing them of blackmail, prompting them to offer an apology.
Rooney told Sky Sports News after he managed Derby to a friendly victory over Real Betis on Wednesday: ‘I made a mistake.
‘I went to a private party with two of my friends and from me, I’d like to apologise to my family and the club for the images which were going round and I want to move forward on this.
‘I’m grateful to Derby County for giving me this opportunity to get this club back to where it belongs, and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure I do that.
‘It’s dealt with. I’m looking forward to moving forward and preparing for another game.’
Rooney’s apology to Derby came after fears his managerial job was on a knife-edge after the images were shared on Sunday.
A source said: ‘How can he lead a group of young men when he cannot appear to control himself in public during a night out? This type of behaviour hurts the club’s reputation.’
Rooney has recently been at odds with the powers-that-be at cash-strapped Derby as the former England striker has demanded more investment in the team that stayed in the Championship only by the skin of their teeth on the last day of the season.
Rooney’s future with the club is said to be ’50-50′, because ‘as manager he must lead by example’.
His comments come just hours after he paid a ‘nominal’ fee to Brooke Morgan, Elise Melvin, both 21, and their pal Eleanor Hoggarth, who have apologised to him and ‘volunteered to hand over all pictures’ having admitted they got ‘carried away’, according to the footballer’s spokesman.
Mr Rooney now owns the copyright on the images that showed him passed out in a chair as the friends mucked around in their underwear in their £60-a-night room in Manchester last Saturday. One flashed her bottom next to the Derby County boss and then posted it online, captioning it ‘Mooney Rooney’.
In the aftermath ex-England skipper Wayne alleged to police he was blackmailed over the images of him with the three women while fully-clothed and slumped in a chair. Miss Morgan, Miss Melvin and Miss Hoggarth approached Rooney’s lawyer, his spokesman said.
Wayne’s ownership of the majority of the pictures from his night out will now mean he can take legal action if they are used by the press or on social media.
It is possible the apology was part of the agreement to hand over copyright. The deal between Rooney and the women does not necessarily rule out the possibility of other arrangements between the people involved.
A spokesman for Wayne Rooney said: ‘The three girls who took the photographs contacted Wayne’s lawyers and volunteered to hand over all pictures that were taken that night and the copyrights in them.
‘They have also, at their own suggestion, made a written apology to him for the events that took place and the embarrassment caused. These were three decent young women who went for a night out. They did not expect Wayne to end up in their company and are remorseful about how things turned out with the pictures.
‘They got carried away and did something they later regretted. They did not expect it to end up in the mainstream media after it was posted on social media and they decided to take steps to put things right.
‘It would be wrong to say no money changed hands because when a contract is drawn up there must be a sum and in this case it was a nominal £1.
‘They have fulsomely apologised because they wanted to do what they saw as the right thing and draw a line under the matter.’