• England

England 'monkey' leak player angry at Townsend

ESPN staff
October 21, 2013
Townsend defended Hodgson's joke

The England player who leaked the Roy Hodgson space monkey joke is angry at Andros Townsend for backing his manager, says the journalist who broke the story.

Gordon Smart, editor of the Scottish Sun, has confirmed that his source is indeed an England player rather than one of their associates. He has also claimed that the player was one of several who were offended by Hodgson's joke.

During his half-time team talk for England's World Cup qualifier against Poland last Tuesday, Hodgson encouraged his side to pass the ball as often as possible to Townsend by using a NASA joke including the line "feed the monkey".

Smart revealed the story on Wednesday night, with Townsend taking to Twitter the next day to insist he had not been offended. Wayne Rooney also defended Hodgson by saying the situation was "ridiculous".

"He [the source] was angry about Andros Townsend tweeting the following day [to say he was not offended] because he assures me Andros was upset by it," Smart said on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

"The following morning [after the Poland game] I got a call from an England player who wasn't very happy at all about what had gone on in the dressing room.

"I said to the player, 'Do you think this is a good idea to go public? Is there not another way for you to go through with this? Should you not go to the FA about this? Have you spoken to Roy?'

"He said no, he wanted to go public and that he wasn't the only player who was upset. They had agreed they wanted to go public with it.

"I called it in to the office and during the day more than one player did corroborate that Roy had made this remark, that it was taken the wrong way. Across the board everyone did agree it was taken the wrong way.

"I don't for one second think Roy Hodgson is racist. I just think he chose his words really unwisely and misjudged the room.

"As I understood it, it was Roy speaking to Chris Smalling and telling him not to muck about with it and to feed the monkey. There were a few extra words in there that I can't repeat at this time of day on the radio.

"It was taken the wrong way and I know that one senior player and Gary Neville looked at each other and at that point said to Roy: 'I think you better explain what you have just said there'. That was when he explained the NASA anecdote."

When quizzed about the identity of his source, Smart was adamant it was an England player, but refused to confirm whether they had featured in Tuesday's clash with Poland. He said: "One hundred per cent direct from the horse's mouth, an England player speaking to me direct.

"I've got to be careful about jigsaw identification," he added.

"If I go in to detail about whether they played or whether they didn't play that would lead to it narrowing it down who it was, so I can't say either way. It's only fair that I protect my source on that."

Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close