The waiter who served Manchester United and England hero Wayne Rooney and his wife Coleen at a Co Down restaurant earlier this week said the couple were treated “the same as every other customer”.
Famous faces are nothing new at The Dirty Duck Alehouse in Holywood so for David Stoops (38), who has worked at the restaurant for over five years, it was just another normal shift.
Boasting a newly refurbished beer garden for visitors, The Dirty Duck was the perfect spot for the football power couple, who recently celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary, to enjoy “some good quack” on Wednesday.
They certainly caused a stir among the locals when the owners later posted a picture of the couple on social media, dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts and beaming while clutching the premises’ trademark fluffy duck.
“They came in about 12.30 and stayed on for a few hours,” David told the Belfast Telegraph.
“We have so many well-known people coming in now so you just get used to it. They are just like normal people and I treated them the same as every other customer because that’s the way I do things. People just want to get out and have a bit of normality without being hassled.”
David said the booking was made under the name of the hotel where the couple are staying but he declined to reveal its identity.
“We knew someone was coming but we had been told it was a famous woman. I told Wayne this and he laughed and enjoyed the banter. There were four of them altogether, Wayne and Coleen along with two others, who might have been family members,” he added.
“Wayne said they were over because he’d managed to get a few days off from whatever he’s doing. He said he’d only ever been to Northern Ireland for football games and wanted to see more of the place.
"As far as I’m aware they are here for a couple of days so they could pop up somewhere else yet.”
Already a popular destination with a wide range of patrons and famous for its charm and welcoming hospitality, having high-profile jet-setters like Wayne and Coleen dropping in for a meal will certainly do The Dirty Duck’s image no harm.
They join a host of celebrities who have also popped into the seafront hotspot, known for its incredible panoramic views of Belfast lough, including film star Liam Neeson, Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard and the stars of Strictly Come Dancing.
“It’s just one of the spots people love to come to eat in because we do a bit of everything,” David added.
“When they were leaving they said the food was lovely and that they had a great day. I think they were meant to leave a bit earlier but they sat on a wee bit longer.
"They had a good view out towards the lough and were laughing at a few lads who were jumping in for a swim. People just left them alone and let them enjoy themselves.”
All four dined on a sharing board featuring mini fish and chips, fried chicken and nachos, followed by scampi and beef chilli.
“I said to Wayne after about 10 minutes if he would pose with the fluffy duck and then I took the picture later on in the afternoon when the restaurant had quietened down,” David added.
"They laughed and were fine about it — the duck has been round a few people at this stage.
"For me it was just a normal day but it was obviously nice to have a superstar footballer like Wayne Rooney coming in even though I’m an Arsenal fan. He took it well when I told him!”
Posting the photo on Facebook on Wednesday night, the restaurant said: “No, this isn’t photoshop, your eyes don’t deceive you — it is in fact former Man United player, Wayne Rooney and his lovely wife, Coleen in our restaurant!”
They added: “The pair called in for a tasty bite to eat this afternoon and were lovely enough to pose for a photo with our famous fluffy duck. Hope you enjoyed your meal guys!”
The Rooneys’ trip to Holywood comes after the family had enjoyed another day out with their sons to watch England take on Croatia at Wembley stadium in their opening group game of Euro 2020 on Sunday.
Last week it was announced that Derby County manager Wayne (35) will come out of retirement this September for Soccer Aid 2021, when England take on a World XI at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.