Aston Villa may have lost their wizard of the wing, but they have gained the king of bling.
New signing Stephen Ireland might only have been a makeweight in the megabucks transfer taking James Milner to Manchester City – but few can compete with the Irish midfielder when it comes to spending.
The first taste – or perhaps lack of taste – of things to come was when Ireland turned up in a Range Rover fitted with garish pink wheel trims at Eastlands.
And he was only a trainee at the time.
His pay packet has grown considerably since he first hit the big time back in 2006, fuelling his love for the gaudy trappings of football stardom.
First came the £5 million mansion in Cheshire complete with 12-metre indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, cinema and snooker rooms, where his neighbours included Wayne Rooney.
Ireland then splashed out on a £170,000 Lamborghini, a £78,000 Porsche Cayenne and a £97,000 Audi R8 which he had painted in red and white – the colours of his Man Utd rivals.
After ribbing from his team-mates, he spent another £10,000 repainting the luxury vehicle in blue and white instead.
The car has a blue petrol cap shaped like the logo of Superman – a nickname the star earned after dropping his shorts in a goal celebration in 2007 to reveal a pair of underpants with the superhero logo on them.
The Audi also boasts number sevens on all the alloy wheels to match with Ireland’s Man City shirt number.
In the back seat is a massive stereo car speaker the size of a spare tyre.
Never one to rest on his laurels, he next upped the stakes with a gift to his beloved blonde WAG, Jessica Lawlor: a £264,000 Bentley GTC convertible.
This sleek motor is normally reserved for classy James Bond types, but Ireland decided to get the famous Bentley “B” badge changed to Jessica’s initials, JL.
Inside the Bentley sports car, the couple’s initials are embroidered on the headrests and the message “To Jess, love Stephen” is written on the leather upholstery.
The Villa newcomer’s taste in dodgy décor has even spread to his own skin, as the Irishman has adorned himself with huge angel wing tattoos covering almost all of his back.
Recently, he announced to friends that he planned to dig up his kitchen floor and fit a glass-covered shark tank to go with his £100,000 tropical aquarium.
His big spending antics and questionable behaviour have ensured that Ireland’s footballing achievements are often overshadowed by his life off the pitch.
The midfielder, who scored 23 goals in 138 games at City, ruined his international career in 2007 after lying to Republic of Ireland officials that his grandmother had died, and saying he needed compassionate leave.
When the press found out that his gran was still alive, Ireland changed his story twice – claiming that a second grandmother, and then his grandfather’s second wife, were dead – before eventually coming clean.
He was rebuked for being “stupid” by then Manchester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson, and hasn’t represented his country since.