Leicester striker Jamie Vardy fears the racism storm in which he was engulfed last summer has left a “permanent stain” against his name which is “worse than a criminal record”.
The 29-year-old England international apologised last summer for a “regrettable error in judgement”, soon after footage emerged which appeared to show him abusing a fellow gambler in a casino, calling him “Jap” on three occasions.
And he has stressed his remorse in his new autobiography, which is being serialised in The Sun, insisting that he was ignorant, rather than racist, but reckons some people will never forget.
“Most convictions get wiped after a period of time,” he said. “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.”
He added: “I like a drink and enjoy being Jack the Lad. I’ve had a few scraps and spent a night in a cell. I can be a pain in the ar*e. 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.”