Soccer star Rio Ferdinand said that a "kiss'n'tell" story about an alleged affair was a "gross invasion of my privacy".
He described how the April 2010 Sunday Mirror article, which appeared when he was England captain, put a strain on his relationship with wife Rebecca, the mother of his three children, and caused "great distress".
The 32-year-old Manchester United centre-back told Mr Justice Nicol, who is hearing his claim for substantial damages from MGN Ltd, that the story sold to the newspaper by interior designer Carly Storey for £16,000 "came out of the blue".
He said: "It has been stressful and embarrassing for me to have to explain it to fellow professionals as well as family members and friends, and it has inevitably put a strain on my relationship with my wife."
He told London's High Court he had "not met this girl for six years" by the time the article was published.
The story, which was produced in court in a redacted form, was headed "My affair with England captain Rio" and claimed that Ferdinand ended a 13-year relationship with Ms Storey within days of being handed the skipper's armband in February 2010.
Ferdinand said in court: "Although I am a well-known person I make a clear distinction between my public and private life and do not seek publicity for my personal life.
"I do not see why I should not be entitled to a private life just because I am a famous footballer."
MGN claims it was in the public interest to run the story about Ferdinand, who replaced John Terry as England captain before Terry was reinstated by manager Fabio Capello this year.
The issue for the judge is whether the newspaper was justified in publishing because the over-riding public interest was such that its Article 10 rights to freedom of expression trumped Ferdinand's Article 8 privacy rights of the Human Rights Act.