Adam Johnson said his world was “turned upside down” when he was arrested for sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.
The footballer told Bradford Crown Court he “panicked” and was “in turmoil” during his police interview after he was arrested at the home, he shares with his girlfriend Stacey Flounders, in March last year.
He admitted he did not always answer some police questions entirely truthfully. He said: “My world had got turned upside down and I was trying to play it down as much as I could.”
When asked by Orlando Pownall QC, defending, about what state he was in during his first interview, Johnson said: “I was panicking. I had all these thoughts going through my mind about everything. To name a couple, my career, my family, I was in turmoil.”
He denied he delayed pleading guilty so that he could keep his salary.
The 28-year-old former Sunderland winger told Bradford Crown Court he admitted kissing the girl in his car but said he tried to “play it down”.
Johnson said he was “surprised” that the teenage girl had told police that further sexual activity had taken place.
He said: “I couldn’t believe the things she was saying to police. I felt like someone else was telling her to say these things.”
Johnson has admitted grooming and passionately kissing the girl in his black Range Rover but denies two counts of further sexual activity.
In cross-examination, the footballer said he did not think of himself as an honourable man. He agreed that he was arrogant and audacious and “lived the life of a celebrity”.
Johnson described how the WhatsApp messages between him and the 15-year-old became “flirty” and “inappropriate” before their second meeting on January 30.
The footballer said he knew that he had “seriously wronged” the girl but admitted that he wanted to touch her sexually and that his attitude to the thank-you kiss was “keen”.
Johnson agreed that he had taken a “bold risk” by meeting up with the girl, but he denied taking advantage of the fact that she was a 15-year-old Sunderland fan who idolised him.
During his evidence, he occasionally took tissues from a box and used them to blow or wipe his nose.
The footballer has pleaded guilty to one count of grooming and one count of sexual activity with a child. He denies two further counts of sexual activity with a child.
The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.