A stunning snub in which Irish striker Ruesha Littlejohn refused to shake hands with Australian star Caitlin Foord may have stemmed from the Matildas player’s close friendship and recent holiday with the Ireland ace’s ex-girlfriend, it has been claimed.
The awkward on-pitch encounter between the rival forwards, which took place before the Australians beat Ireland 1-0 in the opening game of the World Cup, has fired up soccer gossip circles.
Video footage shows Irish striker Littlejohn leaping at Foord in a pre-match handshake on Thursday night, in what is a highly unusual football snub.
Eyewitnesses say tensions came to a boil when Littlejohn appeared to try to approach Foord after the match, only to be physically held back by several of his teammates.
Rumors now abound as to what prompted the Irish striker’s unusual behaviour, with fans speculating it could have something to do with Littlejohn’s recent split from Irish captain Katie McCabe.
One of Ireland’s most recognizable sporting couples, Littlejohn and McCabe have split after just over seven years together, with McCabe confirming the split in a recent interview just days ago.
Ruesha Littlejohn’s awkward snub of Caitlin Foord may have come after Foord (left) enjoyed a holiday with the Irish striker’s ex-girlfriend, Katie McCabe (right).
Ruesha Littlejohn and Caitlin Foord clashed after the final whistle in Sydney
Footage shows Ruesha Littlejohn completely ignoring Foord in the handshake procession before Ireland’s 1-0 defeat by the Matildas on Thursday night.
Littlejohn plays for WSL side Aston Villa, while his ex, McCabe, plays for UK Premier League powerhouse Arsenal. Foord is McCabe’s teammate at Arsenal and the pair describe themselves as ‘great friends’
Littlejohn plays for Women’s Super League side Aston Villa, while her ex, McCabe, plays for UK’s Arsenal.
Foord is McCabe’s Gunners teammate and the pair recently shared a fun holiday in Ibiza together with a group of friends.
Foord also recently became single after splitting with Swiss midfielder and Arsenal teammate Lia Walti.
The Mail does not infer that Foord had anything to do with the breakdown of Littlejohn and McCabe’s relationship.
“Clearly there is still some tension coming from Littlejohn who seems to have spilled over a bit on Thursday night,” a source close to the team told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Caitlin and Katie are great friends.
‘They play together at Arsenal. They spend a lot of time together. But there is nothing more than that.
News of Littlejohn and McCabe’s split recently made headline news in Ireland with McCabe in an interview referring to Littlejohn in the past tense as ‘my partner at the time’ in a sure sign that they are no longer together.
Foord (left) and McCabe are said to be part of a close-knit circle of friends at Arsenal.
McCabe and Littlejohn photographed together on vacation during their seven-year relationship
Happier times: McCabe (left) and Littlejohn during their seven-year relationship
Images of the ‘blank’ handshake have racked up thousands of views on TikTok, with comments focusing on Littlejohn blatantly skipping Foord’s outstretched hand.
‘Now it is clearly [sic] that there is some drama between Katie, Reusha and Caitlin’, wrote a Tik Tok user.
“Ruesha that’s too personal,” wrote another.
Contacted through her management, Foord declined to comment on the incident.
Ireland captain Katie McCabe recently confirmed her split from teammate Littlejohn
McCabe is seen shaking hands with injured Australian captain Sam Kerr after the defeat.
However, Matilda insiders have insisted that Foord and McCabe are just good partners and that their friendship played no role in McCabe’s breakup with Littlejohn.
The interview is believed to have been given just two days before the World Cup.
In the article, McCabe describes how Irish legend Emma Byrne took her under her wing when she signed for Arsenal in late 2015.
Until recently, Foord was in a relationship with his Arsenal teammate Lia Walti.
After just over a year with the North London side, then-Ireland manager Colin Bell called Katie to inform her that he would be naming the Arsenal star as captain.
“Then a little over a year later, in July 2017, things got even crazier,” McCabe said.
“I was on a trip to Coney Island, Northern Ireland, with Ruesha, my partner at the time, and her family. At some point I checked my phone and saw that I had a missed call from Colin Bell, the Ireland manager.
The couple started dating around 2016, went on their first date in St Albans, and their relationship went public in 2019.
“It started with soccer. He is a few years older than me,” McCabe told Evoke.ie in 2020.
“I first met her through soccer and we became good friends at first and then we started spending a lot more time together off the pitch socializing together and it just started from there.”
The couple moved to St Albans together to play for their respective England teams, during which time McCabe was named captain of Ireland.
The couple moved to St Albans together to play for their respective England teams. In the photo together on vacation
The exes regularly shared loving snaps together on Instagram during their relationship.
They have spearheaded Pride campaigns aimed at helping young people struggling with their sexuality, and regularly shared snaps of love together on Instagram throughout their relationship.
McCabe told the online publication that their shared love of soccer brought them together.
“We are both very passionate about it, obviously our aim is to win trophies and qualify for the championships with the Republic of Ireland.” We are both very motivated in that sense.
‘Don’t get me wrong, we’ve butted heads a few times over certain games and training sessions, but that’s an integral part of the game. We are very professional when we play football, that is our main focus. Then we can relax when we come home.