Sunderland AFC knew about Adam Johnson allegations 'from the start'

Adam Johnson after scoring during his last game for Sunderland at Anfield, Liverpool.
Adam Johnson after scoring during his last game for Sunderland at Anfield, Liverpool.

Shamed Premier League star Adam Johnson has told a jury that Sunderland AFC were aware he had passionately kissed a 15-year-old girl "from the start".

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Johnson, who has been sacked by the club, denies two counts of sexual activity with a child, and is on trial at Bradford Crown Court.

The England international has already admitted one count of sexual activity with a child and another of meeting a child following sexual grooming.

Today, on the eighth day of his trial, he is being cross-examined by Kate Blackwell QC - and admitted to the court that he knew he had "seriously wronged" the complainant in the case from when messages between them became flirty.

The 28-year-old winger was initially suspended by the club on arrest, but reinstated little over two weeks later due to his "right to train".

In his first interview, Johnson told officers that he and the girl had kissed, and that he knew she was only 15.

Miss Blackwell said: "Throughout the rest of the season you played for the football club, did you have any trouble controlling your conscience?"

She continued: "£60,000 a week - is that what was preying on your mind?"

"Each week that you played for the football club and refused to confirm your guilt was another week perpetuating the excruciating pain for [the girl].

"You heard her tell this jury that she endured a year of being called a liar and a slag, while you encouraged your fans to cheer you on."

Johnson admitted that the incidents were hanging over him - but that he didn't see anything wrong with going back to play, as he had been open about his admissions from the start.

He also denied that his salary was a factor in him not entering a guilty plea sooner.

The footballer told jurors that the players and staff at the club wanted him to return and added: "I wanted to carry on doing my job.

"They knew from the start everything I told them, so I didn't see it as a problem to go back and do what I was paid to do."

He couldn't control what the fans said, Johnson added.

In his last game for the club, which took place on February 6 against Liverpool, Johnson scored a goal and threw his shirt into the crowd.

Miss Blackwell said: "Is this because you knew the game was up? The game you had been playing with the courts?"

Johnson added: "I knew there was a possibility that could happen, yes."

The case continues.