Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy is adamant he is not racist, but fears that will not prevent his reputation from being irreversibly tarnished following an inappropriate comment made in a casino last year.
Vardy hit the headlines for the wrong reasons when he made an offensive remark to an Asian man during a night out, behaviour that was caught on video and resulted in him being fined.
In an extract of his autobiography Jamie Vardy: From Nowhere, My Story serialised in The Sun, Vardy said: “Most convictions get wiped after a period of time. But there’s no way of erasing what happened in July 2015.
“The word ‘racist’ is a permanent stain against my name. It’s worse than a criminal record.
“Some people will never forgive me. Others will accept I made a terrible mistake and recognise I have learnt from it.
“It’s on YouTube when my kids type in their dad’s name and it comes up ‘Jamie Vardy racist’. On Google, too. It’s horrible.
“I like a drink and enjoy being Jack the Lad. I’ve had a few scraps and spent a night in a cell. But one thing I’m not, and never will be, is a racist.
“I looked in the eyes of the student I verbally abused and told him that. I needed him to see how sorry I was. I wanted him to know there was ignorance, not malice or prejudice, behind the word I used.
“I was angry at the time and I’d had too much to drink but I’d never have used the word ‘Jap’ if I’d known it was racist.”
A 24-goal haul from Vardy helped fire Leicester to the Premier League title last season.