Euro 2016: Kyle Lafferty's new bride Vanessa reveals how the Northern Ireland hero swept her off her feet
The stunning model bride of Northern Ireland football hero Kyle Lafferty has revealed she made her new husband wait two months for a first date.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Life, 24-year-old Vanessa Chung from East Kilbride in Scotland concedes she was wary of getting together with a suitor she barely knew and someone who had a supposed "bad boy" image.
But once she got to know the former Rangers striker through three-hour long phone calls and a heart-to-heart meeting, Vanessa came to the conclusion that the negative media reports surrounding her future beau's private life and off-the-field antics were either false or exaggerated.
Kyle, from Kesh in Co. Fermanagh, soon became the love of her life and her best friend and they quickly moved in together.
After a whirlwind romance which saw them get engaged just seven months after they met, Kyle and Vanessa were married last month in her home town, in front of 140 close family and friends, before enjoying a beautiful reception in the surroundings of the luxury Gleneagles Hotel.
The new Mrs Lafferty said: "A couple of years ago Kyle sent me a message over Facebook, but I didn't really take any notice of it and I didn't reply. I wasn't interested.
"As he used to live in East Kilbride he knew about me and my sisters [Vanessa has four sisters including twins who also model].
"He messaged me a few times more but I continued to ignore them.
"Then after a few more messages I eventually decided to reply. I replied because I thought it was the polite thing to do.
"I knew who he was because of the fact he had played for Rangers, but I'm not really into football so it wasn't a big deal for me.
"My brother-in-law is Darren O'Dea [former Celtic player]. Darren and I would be quite close and I mentioned it to him that Kyle Lafferty was messaging me. He just said: 'Oh, that's the guy from Rangers.'
"It's funny, now Darren and Kyle are the best of friends.
"We then moved from Facebook to the phone and got talking and we would just chat for hours, but even though he asked me out I turned him down.
"It was during this time while we were having our phone chats that I started to look into him and read about all the bad things people were writing about him in the papers.
"It made me a bit wary but I also knew that I shouldn't believe everything that was in the papers.
"There has been stuff about my brother-in-law in the papers and I know for a fact it isn't always true. So I just decided that I would take Kyle's word for it and take him as I found him.
"When he asked me out again this time I decided it was time to meet up with him.
"I just felt, after all our chats, as though I knew him.
"We met up in Norwich, as that's where he was playing at the time, and went for dinner. It was lovely."
Prior to that first date, Kyle, 28, had sent Vanessa, whose father hails from Hong Kong and her mother from just outside Glasgow, a big bunch of roses and then during the evening he presented her with a bracelet, and then showed her he had a matching one.
Vanessa, who has modelled all over the world and appeared in the Nickelback 'Rockstar' music video in Times Square, New York with her twin sisters, explains: "I had a good feeling about him - he didn't seem at all like what the papers branded him.
"He was open and honest with me. And really, a lot of the stuff he's done is not really that bad.
"He was just a young lad who came from a small village in Northern Ireland and was thrown out into the open of Glasgow city.
"People think he's arrogant and has a big head, but he's so not. Yes he can be quite cocky and jokey at times but he's actually quite shy and is easily embarrassed.
"He's the most generous and loving person I've ever met - not just to me, but to my family and his own family. My mum and dad absolutely love him and he gets on so well with them and all my sisters.
"He's got a big heart and it's definitely in the right place. He would do anything for anyone."
Within hours of that first date finishing Kyle was already on the phone to Vanessa organising a second night out - this time in London just a few days later.
After that initial apprehension, love blossomed quickly for the pair as Vanessa moved down to Norwich and apart from Kyle's football duties, they have been inseparable ever since.
Kyle and Vanessa spent their first Christmas in 2014 together in Norwich, got engaged two months later and when he went on loan to Caykur Rizespor in northern Turkey for four months she went with him.
Vanessa cut back on her modelling commitments to not only plan their wedding and the development of their new house in Glasgow but simply to support Kyle as he prepares to play in the biggest tournament of his life.
She, along with her mum and dad, were at all the home games during Euro qualifying and will also be in France for Northern Ireland's games.
Vanessa says: "I feel so proud when he plays for Northern Ireland and hear the crowd chanting. I don't get nervous because I have every confidence in his ability on the pitch. Obviously I'm a patriotic Scot and love my country but now due to Kyle I'm definitely a Northern Ireland fan.
"As the cook in our relationship, I'm trying to play my part by making sure Kyle eats really healthily because he has a really sweet tooth. I want him to be fit, strong and prepared for the Euros.
"Then once it's all over in France we'll be going on honeymoon to Bora Bora in the south Pacific.
"I can't wait to be lying on a beach, chilling out and having Kyle all to myself."
Belfast Telegraph Digital