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Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Friday, 11 June 2010 11:56 UK
World Cup 2010: Matthew Upson's WAG aims to ditch tag

Ellie Darby spoke to BBC Look East's Mike Liggins about Matthew Upson

The girlfriend of England and West Ham defender Matthew Upson hopes to dispel the WAG (Wives and Girlfriends) stereotype at the 2010 World Cup.

Athlete Ellie Darby, who lives with Upson in Essex, will watch him from the stands despite England manager Fabio Capello's concerns about interference.

"In no other career would you say their wives are the same," said Ellie.

Matthew Upson, 31, grew up and was educated in Diss, where his family still live.

"In football there's a preconception that all footballers' partners have the same level of intellect, the same hobbies and interests - mainly shopping - and it's just really bizarre and frankly untrue," said Ellie.

Ellie joined other footballers' WAGs in a bid to break the stereotype by appearing in the BBC Three TV documentary WAGs, Kids and World Cup Dreams, helping deprived children in the tournament's host country of South Africa.

The runner, who is hoping to compete in the London 2012 Olympics, will join Matthew in South Africa as England start their World Cup campaign against the USA on Saturday, 12 June 2010.

South Africa

Upson is likely to play a prominent defensive role for England in the tournament following captain Rio Ferdinand's injury.

Matthew's dad Richard, who lives in Diss, is also joining Ellie on the trip to South Africa and is looking forward to his son getting the nod from Capello.

"We've never been to a World Cup before and it's especially pleasing for Matthew because four years ago he set himself a target to get in the England squad and go to a World Cup," he said.

"He's achieved that first part and now he's just got to play a couple of games and I'm sure he will.

"People [in Diss] have been very interested, very supportive."

Business boost

The former home town of Matthew is also revelling in the player's England success and it has provided an additional boost for local businesses.

Matthew Upson (detail) (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

"We're really going for it. We want to support the team and make it as nice as possible for anybody who walks through the town," said Charlie Nevitt from Leisure Sport in Diss town centre.

"There's so much interest. We get phone calls - 10, 15 people a day, sales are good, everyone wants [a shirt] and wants to wear either red or white - they're really hot products.

"Everybody's proud locally that they've got someone who they can cheer on and it's just nice to have somebody out there playing and being part of the World Cup squad that you can relate to."

Charlie has even had the honour of selling a personalised England shirt to Matthew's young niece.

"I know his mum and dad, his sister's been in the shop and had a shirt personalised with Upson 15 on the back - I did it especially for her daughter," he said.

"Everybody's proud of him - I think that was the icing on the cake getting someone like that to come in and buy something like that!"

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