By Guy Adams of Daily Mail
Such is the chequered nature of Wayne Rooney's off-field CV that yesterday's drink-driving arrest represents just the latest in a seemingly endless string of self-inflicted PR disasters.
In the decade and a half since his elevation to superstardom, a host of unedifying episodes in the former England captain's private life have generated almost as many unfortunate headlines as his occasional on-field blunders.
The most famous, of course, have involved the married father-of-three's habit of occasionally consorting with prostitutes, of varying vintages. On terraces across the land, such behaviour continues to inspire obscene chants from opposition fans.
Other incidents have seen him photographed staggering out of nightclubs, urinating in the street, falling asleep in taxis, smoking, drinking and gambling heavily on his own in casinos. On one occasion, he was filmed being knocked out during an impromptu boxing fight in a friend's kitchen. On another - last year - he gate-crashed a wedding reception at the luxury hotel where the England squad was staying.
Many view these scandals as inevitable by-products of a man who has more money than sense. What's more, for all his wealth and sporting talent, it's argued that he's never quite matured from being the working-class scally from the Liverpool suburb of Croxteth. Yet such views are not only snobbish but far from the truth.
For in conversation, the 31-year-old is a great deal more intelligent than his reputation suggests. Hunter Davies, who ghost-wrote his autobiography, has said: 'His family, and that of Coleen, the wife on whom he has depended so much, are traditional, solid, working class, respectful, God-fearing Catholics. He would have got a slap, if he had really stepped out of line.'
So what lies behind such occasional bouts of stupidity?
Those who have followed his career offer a one-word answer: drink.
'He's always been a drinker, and he just can't shake it off,' is how one puts it. 'When he gets drunk, goes on a bender, he will do silly things. That's how he ends up sleeping with hookers and in places where he shouldn't be...and why he was arrested this week.
'Rooney is certainly not an alcoholic, but [it] has had a huge impact on his career. It's damaged his fitness, which has also suffered because he also had a long-term problem with cigarettes.'
It is revealing to compare Rooney with former Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo. They are just eight months apart in age. But whereas the Englishman's career peaked when he was 25, the Portuguese is still one of the world's best players.
Ronaldo lives like a professional athlete, whereas Wayne Rooney doesn't. Warning signs have been there since the start of his England career in 2003, when he was 17. It emerged that he'd cheated on then-girlfriend Coleen with a prostitute called Charlotte Glover.
He'd paid the hooker £140 before leaving her a signed photograph as a souvenir. A month later, it was reported that he'd also paid at least ten late-night visits to a £45-a-time Liverpool brothel where he'd consorted with and 48-year-old grandmother nicknamed the 'Auld Slapper' who wore a rubber catsuit. Rooney later apologised, saying: 'Foolish as it now seems, I did on occasions visit massage parlours and prostitutes... I now regret it deeply and hope people may understand that it was the sort of mistake you make when you are young and stupid.'
He was rather less young and stupid, however, by 2009, when it emerged that he'd slept with a £1,200-a-night prostitute while Coleen, whom he had married the previous year, was pregnant with their first child.
The footballer used untraceable pay-as-you-go mobiles to arrange at least seven liaisons at five-star hotels with the woman, who plied her trade under the pseudonym Juicy Jeni and did a subsequent kiss-and-tell with a red-top tabloid Sunday newspaper.
One of her more intriguing revelations was that Rooney was so desperate for a cigarette that he rang hotel reception and paid £200 for a packet to be brought to the room. The fact is that, for years, smoking has been a vice.
In 2008, Rooney was pictured smoking and drinking by a Las Vegas hotel pool while on his honeymoon. He was also said to have chain-smoked during his stag weekend in Ibiza. Hardly behaviour that befits a supposed role model, or a professional athlete.
Two years later, he was spotted smoking in the street and urinating behind a bottle bank after having stayed up until dawn at Panacea, a Manchester nightclub.
Since Coleen was there, they got a taxi home - illustrating the degree to which she is a moderating influence. It is hardly a coincidence that this week's events took place while Wayne was at home alone, while his pregnant wife and children were on holiday in Majorca. Neither is it a surprise that Rooney's other errant behaviour has happened when away from home. In May, for example, it emerged that he'd spent £500,000 at a Manchester casino. Like many footballers, he has a long-standing gambling habit. In 2006, it was reported he lost £700,000 in an England dressing room gambling ring.
Last November, Rooney and his England team-mates were told by their manager to treat themselves to a couple of drinks at the bar while staying at a hotel in Hertfordshire.
The evening ended with Rooney being photographed in a state of apparent inebriation after gate-crashing a wedding. 'His speech was slurred, his lips were red with wine and his eyes were red,' said one guest.
Ironically, recent months had seen a mini-revival in Rooney's form on the pitch, leading some to wonder if he'd finally got his lifestyle in check after leaving Manchester United, where he'd spent more than a decade.
After eschewing big money offers to finish his career in the Far East (which would have seen him separated from his family and might have sparked speculation about the state of his marriage), he returned to Everton, the club he supported as a child and whose academy he joined aged nine.
He devoted pre-season to fitness training, spending hours spinning at a gym run by his brother-in-law, and was reported to have paid close attention to his diet. As a result, he looked fitter and slimmer when the season started, and scored in his first two league games.
His retirement from England duty was seen by many as a canny move to prolong his career. With blue-chip sponsors such as Nike, he retains enormous earning potential. Forbes put it at around £15 million a year.
But then came this weekend's international break. At home alone, with no weekend game to prepare for, Rooney seems to have gone off the rails again.
As so often, the most naturally-gifted England footballer of his generation woke to find himself in the news for all the wrong reasons.