Ex-England player Stuart Pearce cheats on wife and kids

Stuart Pearce at the 2012 Olympics with Great Britain.

In shocking news that is taking over the English tabloids, former England defender and coach Stuart Pearce has left his wife of 20 years for a Football Association employee.

In a report published in The Daily Mail, Pearce's close family friend said that the former coach suffered a "complete mid-life crisis" when he walked out on his wife and two children to be with 39-year-old Carol Day (pictured).

Day, who is said to have informed her FA bosses about the relationship, once worked as a liaison officer for England's WAGs (wives and girlfriends) and made travel arrangements for them.

She joined the FA in 1998 two years after completing a business administration and marketing degree at Brunel University.

She was also an organiser for the Great Britain football team at last year’s London Olympics – a team managed by Pearce.

Pearce made 78 appearances for England before embarking on a managerial career in 2002, which has since seen him coach the England Under-21 side, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest.

"Stuart told his wife Liz last month that he was leaving and he immediately moved out of the family home," said Pearce's friend, who added that the 51-year-old then embarked on a one-week holiday with Day.

Pearce's wife, whom he married in 1993, is said to be shocked by the affair. Her husband reportedly told her that the relationship only started after the European U-21 Championships in June.

"Liz does not know if Stuart is telling the truth or if the affair has been going on longer,’ said the family friend.

Mario Balotelli and Fanny Neguesha.

In other footballing relationship news, Italian bad boy Mario Balotelli has taken it upon himself to clarify rumours about his personal life.

The 22-year-old has been in the spotlight after his move to AC Milan, with Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete likening his off-pitch antics to a "Balotelli cyclone".

Balotelli recently slammed a news article urging him to be a "role model against mafias". He also made headlines along with the rest of the Italian squad, after it was announced they would be banned from using Twitter at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The Azzurri trained on Monday with a football club stripped of its organised crime ties, but their actions were still met with criticism, especially from leading anti-Mafia campaigners who called Balotelli an "imbecile".

Balotelli and Neguesha pose in OK magazine.

To be fair, the Italian paparazzi have been known to be ruthless, especially when it comes to exposing the personal lives of high-profile athletes and celebrities.

Last month, for example, several newspapers printed rumours of a separation between the striker and his Belgian model girlfriend, Fanny Neguesha, whom he has been dating since November.

As a result, Balotelli took to the Internet to explain his status.

"Some people try to (speculate) but my life would be meaningless without Fanny. I love you, my love. Thank God that I found you! We are a perfect team! It is fantastic! Only Fanny gets me the peace that I need. I love my life, love my family, I LOVE Fanny," he wrote proudly on Twitter.

Straight from the horse's mouth, as they say.