Adam Johnson’s teenage victim has spoken of feeling “so broken” in the aftermath of his abuse.
The girl described being the subject of gossip, despite her anonymity being protected by law.
It was “surreal” when her hero made contact with her and she described being “overwhelmed” by meeting her favourite player.
In a statement issued by Durham Police, she said: “From the very beginning of all of this I always doubted that people would believe me.
“I was talking to Adam Johnson, it was surreal for me. He was my favourite football player for Sunderland, a club I was a massive supporter of. As a Sunderland fan I absolutely idolised Adam.
“He was my hero. I attended the home games whenever I could. It was something I looked forward to.
“When Adam messaged me I was in shock and disbelief. I didn’t even believe it was Adam at first. He had to prove to me that it was him because it was that surreal.
“He offered me a match-worn signed shirt so I was obviously over the moon.
“He asked me straight away how old I was and I said ‘15’ because I didn’t see it as a problem as I was only getting a signed shirt. In fact, I told him that I had only just turned 15.
“I was overwhelmed by all of this. This was my favourite player and he was texting me.”
She went on to say that after the sexual activity in his Range Rover, “I felt used and let down by him”.
The girl added: “It’s been the hardest year of my life and I’ve had to face so much abuse after he claimed his innocence.
“I was made out to be a liar, if anything, I held things back because I didn’t want all of this to come out.
“What happened in his car has turned my life upside down. I have lost all of my confidence. My school work has suffered.
“There are people out there who have made assumptions about me and that alone has been hard to deal with. I have been unable to defend myself publicly.
“The gossip on social media and hearing all of the horrible names that people have been calling me has been devastating to me, my friends and my family.
“People were lying about me and what I had said.”
Johnson’s conviction meant she has been vindicated.
She added: “The last 12 months have been horrendous and there have been times when I’ve wanted to hide away from the world. There have been times I haven’t felt able to face people.
“There have been times when I’ve tried not to show people how upset I am, but sometimes it hasn’t been possible and I’d just cry. I’ve felt so broken.
“I’ve been in some very dark places over that time and I thought the trial and giving evidence, having my say, would give me closure.
“But it didn’t. It put me back into the same dark places and I felt worse than I’ve ever felt before. This was because I still didn’t feel believed.”
The girl had sympathy for Johnson’s ex-partner, saying: “I feel sad for Stacey and what she has been through.
“I hope Adam realises the hurt and damage he has caused. I now want to put this awful experience behind me and begin to rebuild my life.
“I hope I can move on from this and look to the future.”