WASHINGTON • DC United captain Wayne Rooney responded on Wednesday to a story that appeared in a British tabloid featuring photos of him enjoying the Vancouver nightlife after a match earlier this month, and talking to a woman outside a hotel elevator.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the English striker called the story and photos, which appeared in The Sun over the weekend and reportedly embarrassed his wife, Coleen, "a smear" against him.
"The Sun this week ran a front-page story making it look like I took a girl back to my team hotel," Rooney said in the statement.
"They know it's not true and that I did not. They are using mine and my family's name to sell papers.
"Nothing happened between me and any girl on that night. I did not enter the lift alone with the girl pictured in the hotel foyer."
In breaking his silence, Rooney, who declined interviews on Tuesday through a team spokesman, said the woman pictured with him was "simply one of many who innocently asked for autographs and pictures" after DC United's 1-0 loss to Vancouver on Aug 17.
He wrote: "The photographs were taken by a freelance photographer who followed me and my teammates to take long range shots, without our knowledge or permission.
"The pictures sold to the newspaper were selected and edited to create a sensational and completely untrue story about me.
"This whole story was a smear against me. It is damaging to my family and not something I am prepared to put up with."
During the 13 years he played for Manchester United, Rooney was a frequent target of scrutiny by the English tabloids.
The simple pleasure of being able to go places in Washington with Coleen and their four sons without worrying about paparazzi is one of the things the 33-year-old has said he has enjoyed since signing with DC United last year.
But his wife's desire to return to England full time contributed to his decision this month to leave at the end of the season and join the English second-tier side Derby County in a player-assistant coach role.