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It's a whole new ball game for Cheryl

Cheryl Cole is a combination of tender and tough in her video for her hit song, Fight For This Love. Yet what are the chances the stunning X Factor judge expected to end up with so many fights on her hands to save her three-and-a-half year marriage to footballer Ashley? And is she about to get out of the ring?

Reports that she has dumped Ashley by text asking him to leave the marital home and is allegedly being comforted by hunky dancer Derek Gough would suggest that she's ready to start a new life, minus her husband.

Because even given the fashion knuckle duster gloves she wore in the stylised video for her valiant love lament, is there a possibility that the star who rose to fame from humble beginnings in a council estate is cracking under the strain of dealing with a philandering husband? And who would blame her?

Without a doubt there is every reason why Cheryl's feisty spirit should be breaking following new allegations that her husband, very clearly a man she has adored in the past, has betrayed her five times.

Well, you would think so, but Cheryl's strong connection with her fans has always rested on the fact that she is a regular girl at heart, and no one doubted that her marriage to Ashley was a true love story, and not a merger of two famous people trying to become a brand in the ever-competitive world of celebrity endorsements, with Posh and Becks at the top of the league.

And real girls make stupid, romantic mistakes. Plus, the fact is that there are also many people who believe that Cheryl will, indeed, keep fighting for her man, under the delusion that she can change his wayward behaviour. There may have been reports that Cheryl has texted Ashley to tell him that it is all over, but when she comes down to it, Cheryl has always been a woman in love, and love has made her silly before.

Yet, Ashley has now let her down an alleged five times. The list of women with whom he he is said to be sexually linked and the nature of his clandestine meetings with them, is unedifying and a real turn-off for Cheryl's loyal fans. And nor have his sleazy actions endeared Ashley to his footie fans, whose disdain for cheaters was seen in the recent backlash against Chelsea player John Terry.

But the question of how low Cheryl's heart can go, and how much humiliation she can take, is now being asked by her Girls Aloud band mates, and her family and close friends. And while they may be very well aware of the devastating affect that a divorce will have on the singer (who is a traditionalist at heart and has spoken of her desire to start a family soon), they also doubt that there is any way that Cheryl can face any more humiliation without breaking down or, well, looking like a fool.

Famous

Cheryl is different from Elin Nordegren. Tiger Woods's seemingly loyal wife is not famous in her own right and has two young children to take into consideration before she walks away from the errant husband who publically humiliated her by being linked with at least nine other women.

However, Cheryl, for all her fame, is a family woman at heart (her mum lives with her) and Ashley is family and has always been much dearer to her than what her fans think of her, and whether they see her as a doormat or as a woman who fights for her love. And like the typical woman she is, Cheryl will do almost everything she can before she gives up on the man she has always considered to be the love of her life.

Amazingly, most women forgive their husbands' affairs. So was her meeting in Hollywood last week with hunky dancer Derek Hough, during which they were seen having fun together on a cinema trip, simply staged for photographers, and with the intention of making Ashley jealous?

Shamed Ashley is said to be sending Cheryl texts begging her to take him back, and even his dad has come out and described his son's actions as pathetic.

Even more humiliating for Cheryl is the casual nature of Ashley's alleged sexual flings. Over the weekend, Ann Corbitt, a 28-year-old American political aide, claimed to have had a fling with Ashley while Chelsea was on tour in Seattle.

In a separate allegation, Alexandra Taylor, a 27-year-old model, said she slept with Ashley in 2004, just hours after he went public with his relationship with Cheryl.

Meanwhile, Aimee Walton, a young hairdresser, claimed to have been intimate with Ashley, just 18 months after the Coles' lavish wedding.

Now Cheryl must face reports of further unsavoury acts by her husband, who is alleged to have taken naked photos of himself in a hotel room which landed in the hands of a 28-year-old topless model called Sonia Wild.

Plus, the footballer is alleged to have taken Vicki Gough, a Liverpool secretary, into the team hotel for away games against Hull City and West Bromwich, behind both his wife's and his team mates' backs.

Success

Statistically, most women stay in marriages following their husbands' affairs, which suggests a woman's need to fight for her love with a man whom she considers the love of her life. And Cheryl is no different from the millions of women who buy her music and look up to her fame and success. She has the same romantic dreams and hopes, albeit an extraordinary fighting spirit which has taken her from life in a sink estate in England to five-star hotels in Los Angeles.

Yet, will Cheryl's real X Factor be knowing when the time is right to give up the fight?


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