Ireland star delights in Australia's defeat after handshake spat

Ireland star Ruesha Littlejohn delights in England knocking out Australia from the Women’s World Cup after Aussie player went on holiday with her ex-girlfriend, leading to a handshake spat

  • Australia were knocked out of the competition by England in a classy 3-1 victory 
  • Littlejohn previously refused to shake Foord’s hand during their group stage tie 
  • WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 1 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show 

Republic of Ireland star Ruesha Littlejohn claimed an unexpected allegiance on social media after England’s 3-1 defeat of Australia booked the Lionesses a spot in Sunday’s World Cup final. 

The free agent, who played as a forward for Aston Villa before stepping away from the team at the end of last season, took to X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday to applaud England’s performance at Stadium Australia. 

‘I’ve always been a big England fan,’ Littlejohn posted. ‘Engerlandddddddd.’

But fans of the player were quick to spot that her comment might have come with some context. 

During Republic of Ireland’s World Cup campaign, Littlejohn courted controversy in her refusal to shake the hand of Australian opponent Caitlin Foord before the Matildas beat the Irish side 1-0 in their group stage meeting. 

Ruesha Littlejohn (right, with Caitlin Foord) delighted in England’s win over Australia

The Ireland star’s apparent joy at the English victory comes in the wake of an awkward snub when the pair met earlier in the tournament, perhaps after Foord (left) enjoyed a holiday with the Irish striker’s ex-girlfriend Katie McCabe (right)

Republic of Ireland team-mates Littlejohn and McCabe are thought to have split up after over seven years together

Video footage showed Littlejohn seeming to skip over Foord in pre-match handshakes before kickoff in a highly unusual snub that some hinted may have had something to do with the players’ personal lives, namely Foord’s close friendship and recent holiday with Littlejohn’s ex-girlfriend. 

Tensions after the match were thought to have reached boiling point when Littlejohn appeared to make an attempt to approach the Matildas striker, before being physically held back by her team-mates. 

Fans speculated that Littlejohn’s unusual behaviour was linked to her recent split from long-time partner – and Republic of Ireland captain – Katie McCabe. 

The couple are thought to have separated after over seven years together, with McCabe confirming the break-up in an interview days before the start of the team’s group stage campaign. 

Foord and McCabe are team-mates at Arsenal, and in early June enjoyed a group holiday to Ibiza with fellow professional footballers including Aston Villa star Jordan Nobbs. 

‘Clearly there is still some tension surrounding from Littlejohn’s side of things which looks like it spilled over a bit on Thursday night,’ a source close to the team told Daily Mail Australia at the time.

Littlejohn’s tweet attracted attention as supporters claimed she was out for ‘Ruevenge’

Footage showed the player completely ignoring Foord in the handshake procession before Ireland’s 1-0 loss to the Matildas in their final group match

Tension later spilled over as Littlejohn confronted Foord after the final whistle before being pulled back by her team-mates

Foord (left) and McCabe are said to be part of a tight-knit friendship group at Arsenal

‘Caitlin and Katie are great friends. They play together for Arsenal. They spend a lot of time together. But there’s nothing more to it than that.’

Littlejohn and McCabe began dating around 2016, going on their first date in St Albans, and went public with their relationship in 2019.

‘It started with football. She’s a few years older than me,’ McCabe told in 2020.

‘I got to know her through football first and we became good friends at the start and we then we began spending a lot more time together off the pitch socialising together and it kicked off from there.’

The couple moved in together in St Albans to play for their respective English sides, and during that time McCabe was called up to captain for Ireland.

McCabe told the online publication that their shared love of football brought them together.

‘We’re both very passionate about it, obviously our drive is to win trophies and qualify for championships with the Republic of Ireland. We’re both very driven in that sense.

‘Don’t get me wrong, we’ve clashed heads a few times over certain games and training sessions but that’s part and parcel of the game. We’re very professional when we are playing football, that’s our main focus. We can relax then when we get back home.’

Contacted via her management, Foord declined to make any comment about the incident, although there is no suggestion that the player had anything to do with the breakdown of Littlejohn and McCabe’s relationship. 

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McCabe and Littlejohn are thought to have split before the start of the World Cup in July

Ireland exited the tournament at the group stage after finishing bottom of the Group B table

But supporters on social media were quick to draw parallels between the incident and Littlejohn’s potentially inflammatory tweet, with some posting crying-laughing emojis and one person tweeting: ‘Rue is coming for Ruevenge’. 

Ireland were knocked out of the competition at the group stage, after defeats against Australia and Canada. 

The side drew with Nigeria in their tournament opener, but were unable to haul themselves off the bottom of the Group B table. 

The Matildas will instead contest the competition’s bronze medal on Saturday, facing Sweden, after the Nordic side were dispatched by finalists Spain in an edgy 2-1 defeat in Auckland on Tuesday. 


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