real life

"I put my life and dreams on hold for a famous footballer: Why being a WAG sucked".

Being the wife or girlfriend (WAG) of a famous footballer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Trust me.

We met in a dark, dingy nightclub. It was back when you could still smoke indoors and I spotted him through a grey cloud. He was surrounded by lots of people behind a velvet rope. My 18-year-old self couldn’t possibly think of anything cooler than a guy with a posse behind a rope. HOT.

We chatted, he got my number and informed me that we’d be going out to dinner the very next evening.

I knew that the mysterious man was a Someone (the rope and the posse gave it away) but it wasn’t until I casually mentioned his name in front of my family the next day, that I realised he was a Pretty Big Deal Someone in the sporting world. The football (as in soccer, not NRL) world, in particular.

My brother, a soccer lover, was very, very impressed.

what is it like to be a wag
So I wasn’t quite Rebecca Judd, but… Image via Getty.

The Footballer and I did go on our first date that evening. He picked me up in his fancy car, wearing fancy clothes. We had a fancy dinner, and then went back for a drink at his fancy-pants house. It was all very cliché.

I fell in love hard and fast. We were “official” after a couple of weeks of knowing each other, and that was it: I was the girlfriend of a famous sportsman.

A WAG. Life was suddenly looking pretty damn fancy.

Is it easy to be a WAG?

Lesson One in How To Be A Good WAG: Even if you think you’re not the kind of person that’s into showy things… you may surprise yourself because being truly wined and dined is alluring. (Caveat: It truly wasn’t The Footballer’s “things” that attracted me to him, I was in love with him as a person. The “things” were a nice cherry on top, though.)

Only a few months after knowing each other, my footballer got a call that would change both of our lives.

His agent called to say that he’d been offered a multi-million dollar deal with a club in the UK, a.k.a. the Promised Land for Aussie soccer players. He had to move there in a week and the contract was for a few years. His bags basically packed themselves.

ADVERTISEMENT

If I wanted to be with him, I would need to follow him. Quit my job, leave my family and hop on an aeroplane.

Lesson Two in How To Be A Good WAG: You must be able (and willing) to pick up your whole life at a moment’s notice and move to whichever city your partner requires. Most contracts are no longer than a few years and players move quickly and often.

Inside the life of a WAG. By Zoe Foster. Who never wants to be one again.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

He left a couple of months before me because the new season was about to start and the club required him ASAP. We had a tearful goodbye at the airport, with TV cameras looking on. This was my first taste of what was coming: Footballers don’t get privacy.

The lack of privacy is a little easier to swallow when you consider some of the perks. The Footballer was able to fly me first class to the UK to start our new life. I felt like an imposter putting on those silky aeroplane PJs, handed out to the select few sitting at the very front of the plane.

Lesson Three in How To Be A Good WAG: One never, ever, ever flies economy, dah-ling.

Victoria Beckham, eat your heart out.

what is it like to be a wag
Victoria Beckham was a WAG before WAGs were even a thing. Image via Getty.

I arrived in our new home in the dead of English winter, and damn was it cold. So cold, that the last thing you’d want to do is go and sit on the sidelines of a big, windy soccer field. But I learnt quickly that missing a game was just not on. WAGs are required at every match, and with a smile, thank you very much. Lesson Four.

The club had provided him with a beautiful home and car, so we were very comfortable, wanting for nothing. But we had both moved away from all of our friends and families. Neither of us knew a soul in this city, and while he had all the lads that he played and trained with every day, I didn’t have anyone.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lesson Five: Being a WAG is so very lonely at times. When you’re living in a foreign city, your life revolves around your footballer, their training and their games. Training is every day and it takes up most of it, and there’s a match every weekend. If you’re not working, your only contact with other human beings is at the football club.

what is it like to be a wag
Aussie WAG BFFs: Nadia Bartel, wife of AFL player Jimmy Bartel, and Rebecca Judd. Image via Getty.

The other WAGs have usually come from all over the world and there are language barriers, different levels of WAG-ness, and a myriad of other factors that stand in the way of forging meaningful friendships. Think Mean Girls, but older and with loads more money.

Competition is rife: Who has the latest Balenciaga bag, whose house is best, who has the cutest children. There is a Queen WAG at most clubs and what she does sets the tone, everyone else must live up to her expectations.

God Bless WAGS and their fashion choices.

I was a poor, early twentysomething, unemployed Aussie girl and I felt like I had to keep up. My Footballer loved nice things, but he didn’t give a shit if I was wearing designer or Zara. It was the other WAGs whom I felt judged by: My High Street jeans were not a hit in the family box on game days.

Once I caved and bought a Miu Miu blazer for a sickening amount of money. I still have it and every time I look at it, I think of how much I was swept up in that world – I got caught up in thinking that I was only as good as my last purchase.

Experiencing the attention that sports stars and their partners received firsthand, did make me understand why so many people in this world care about appearances.

Think about how much media attention Aussie NRL players get, times that by approximately a bazillion, and that’s how much attention these guys have on them at all times, particularly in the UK. They are like Gods in these towns, and there are cameras, many cameras, all of the time.

ADVERTISEMENT

The one time I got papped with The Footballer I was picking my nose. And the local newspaper published said pic.

Lesson Six in How To Be A Good WAG: In public you must be ON, all the time, or risk someone publishing a picture of you with your unladylike finger up your undignified nose.

I was a poor, early twentysomething, unemployed Aussie girl and I felt like I had to keep up.

The hard-core attention has other downsides…

You can’t get anything, like supermarket shopping, done quickly because every person in the street wants to stop and chat to your footballer. You will also get pushed aside so that they can get photographs with just him.

You need to get used to people hurling abuse at you because the fans from other teams can be vocal and nasty.

Women will throw themselves at him regularly. You can’t be jealous of this or you will drive yourself crazy.

Some of the guys (and WAGs) let fame go massively to their heads and they’re complete and utter douche bags. They demand things and expect people to lick poo off their shoes. You are forced to spend time with these vile people. Regularly.

No you’re not. 

None of the above is particularly fun.

After reading this, you probably think I HATED being a WAG. Truth is, I didn’t. There were so many experiences that were fun and glamourous.

It was lovely seeing my partner have the means to buy houses (uh, houses) for his family. During the off-season we were able to take some pretty amazing holidays, and yes, there were some astonishing gifts.

I even met some famous people, and got access to clubs/restaurants/parties that commoners like me usually don’t.

I enjoyed being swept up in that unrealistic world for a little while. Only for a little while, though…

Another famous Aussie WAG, Terry Biviano, pictured with her daughter and her husband, NRL player Anthony Minichiello. Image via Instagram.

After a couple of years I knew that a WAG’s life wasn’t for me, I wanted to advance my career and live where I wanted to live. I wanted to be able to plan things without my whole life being dictated by someone else’s career. I wanted to be able to walk down the street in trackies and not care what I looked like.

These things aren’t possible when your boyfriend is a footballer playing in Europe. So, The Footballer and I split up. It was all very amicable and I still feel very proud of all that he has achieved. I moved to London by myself and had the time of my life. I was poor and my existence wasn’t even the slightest bit fancy, but that suited me just fine.

I’d had my little taste of “the other side” and realised that I liked normal and everyday much more. So the main lesson I learnt from my time as a WAG, is that all of the glitz of that world doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be happy: sometimes achieving your own goals and following your own dreams is much more rewarding.

00:00 / ???