Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson told police he was “stupid” to kiss a 15-year-old girl and “should have known better”, a court has heard.
In an interview after his arrest, the 28-year-old England international admitted kissing the girl, but denied more serious sexual contact.
A jury at Bradford Crown Court heard Mr Johnson told officers he “knew it was wrong” and that he “had a girlfriend”.
He denies two counts of sexual activity with a child.
In the interview, conducted after his arrest at his County Durham home, Mr Johnson admitted exchanging messages with the girl on social media before meeting her to sign football shirts.
He also admitted kissing her at a second meeting on 30 January last year, but denied it was passionate and repeatedly denied more serious sexual conduct.
Mr Johnson told detectives: “I knew it was wrong. I have a girlfriend for one. Lots of reasons. I’ve got a family, a career.
“I said to myself ‘it was poor … I should have known better’.”
‘I just panicked’
During the interview, the player denied undoing the teenager’s jeans or touching her intimately, adding: “I did not touch her down her pants or anything like that.”
Mr Johnson agreed he had met the girl after they had talked on WhatsApp about a “thank you kiss” for him signing the shirts.
He added: “She came into the car and she said about a thank you kiss. It was just like a normal kiss. Just how you would kiss someone.”
The interviewing officer, Det Con Kimberley Walton, asked the footballer why, when he was arrested, he told his girlfriend, Stacey Flounders, the teenager told him she was 16.
Mr Johnson said he had been trying to keep the truth from Miss Flounders and he had not been trying to deceive the police.
He said: “It was more between me and her. I didn’t want to go back home and she’d taken my daughter and didn’t give me a chance to explain myself.
“I sort of just panicked. I wasn’t going to keep it from you (the police).”
Earlier, Mr Johnson admitted he had created a new Snapchat account to talk to the teenager, who cannot be named, so Miss Flounders could not see it.
He said they had had problems in the past with him “texting girls and stuff”.
He said: “It was more to hide it from my girlfriend, if you know what I mean.”
Dr Paul Hunton, a forensic computers expert, told the jury a Google search for “legal age of consent” was made on Mr Johnson’s phone four days after he met the girl.
He described how he examined an iPhone 6 from Mr Johnson’s house and verified a series of web pages were accessed on 3 February last year.
The court heard Miss Flounders, also 28, quizzed Mr Johnson about the age of the girl.
Det Con Walton agreed that Miss Flounders said to him: “Who is she?”
The officer also agreed that he replied: “It’s (the girl’s name). I just gave her a couple of shirts.”
The court heard that Miss Flounders said: “How old is she?”
And Mr Johnson replied: “Well, she said she was 16.”
The footballer has previously pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and one charge of grooming. He was sacked by Sunderland as a result.
The trial continues.