Love Island’s Jacques O’Neill reveals ‘painful’ start to the new year

The Love Island 2022 star has posted a 'painful' photo

jacques o'neill

by Ben Pulsford |
Updated on

Bless, Love Island 2022 bombshell Jacques O'Neill. It's pretty safe to assume that last year was a bittersweet one for Gemma Owen's – and now Paige Thorne's – ex.

After a turbulent experience on the ITV2 show, one that saw him clashing with Islanders on and off screen, having his head turned - like 360 - in Casa Amor, and eventually quitting to protect his wellbeing (strong respect for this), his public reception was mixed (okay, that's putting it lightly). This led to Jacques to taking some time out away from the spotlight to spend time with his mum and to focus on his own mental health.

We always stan some self love, reflection and growth, so, well done, Jacques 🙏.

In the last few weeks of 2022, Jacques seemed to be slowly emerging back into the public eye; partnering up with various brands, going on trips, attending celeb bashes and moving into his own swanky new pad in Leeds – classic Islander stuff. All in all, Jacques's transition into 2023 was looking positive; for him and his fans.

Unfortunately, the Cumbrian bombshell appears to have already faced and tripped over his first hurdle (perhaps literally, given the context) of the New Year.

Jacques took to his Instagram Story on Monday 2 January to share a picture of a recent injury, writing, "Was hoping for a better 2023 but starting this year with a fractured foot 🙃 Heads gone."

The snap shows Jacques's fractured foot strapped in a boot, elevated on a table next to a crutch, and honestly, all we want to do is sack in work and take a train to Leeds to play nursemaid.


No word yet as to how Mr O'Neill ended up in this unfortunate predicament, but as he's posting about it on 2 January, we're guessing either sporting/fitness injury or a particularly eventful New Year's Eve. Either way, sending this beaut healing vibes and nothing but positivity for the rest of the year.

Who is Jacques O'Neill dating?

Cast your mind back to the end of last summer. Shortly after learning that former flame Paige Thorne and villa boyf rival Adam Collard had split after a steamy summer romance, we learned that Jacques was officially loved up elsewhere – or it certainly looked that way.

If the reports at the time were true, it's safe to say that our Jacques definitely has a type, because frankly, we thought his new flame was, well, Paige AGAIN. She's wasn't, to clarify.

According to The Sun, Jacques dated Norwegian influencer, Isabel Raad (utter bombshell vibes, btw), who was allegedly staying with him in Manchester (before he moved to Leeds). Fans spotted the pair at an event together and according to an insider, the new couple had "real potential".

The source told the publication, "Isabel is really famous in Norway and has a huge following.

"She’s really hit it off with Jacques and is enjoying spending time with him in the UK."

They added, "Isabel is here a lot and friends think things could be serious."

Why did Jacques O'Neill leave the Love Island 2022 villa?

Bombshell Jaques O'Neill famously decided to leave the Love Island 2022 villa before being dumped (or who knows, even winning), and it's safe to say that life has changed dramatically for this Islander since he first made his entrance on Day 7.

heat first learned of Jacques' departure from the show when ITV's press team released the following statement, "Jacques has made the decision to leave the Villa. He will explain his reasons to the Islanders during tonight’s episode. We fully support his decision and look forward to seeing what’s next for Jacques."

By his own admission, Jacques' first two weeks in the villa were "probably the happiest I’ve been in a very long time", but things took an uncomfortable turn in his final fortnight, with the pressures of the show clearly affecting his mental wellbeing, eventually leading to his departure (despite producers allegedly begging him to stay).

After a period of understandable silence, Jacques took to his personal Instagram over the weekend to articulate his thoughts and feelings regarding his Love Island journey, candidly describing his time on the show as the "worst I've ever felt in my life".

He wrote, "Where do I start.. What a rollercoaster of emotions that was from start to finish! Since leaving the villa I’ve had time to reflect on my time being in there and if I’m going to be completely honest I wasn’t mentally prepared for how it was going to be at all - underestimated it massively!

"The first 2 weeks of my experience was probably the happiest I’ve been in a very long time. On the other hand the last 2 weeks was definitely the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. I was finding myself feeling worse and worse every day and if I didn’t leave when I did I was scared I would never have got back to my normal self!

"I’ve watched back the episodes that I got the most hate for and listen I understand why I did. I’ve got a lot of work to do for myself to become a better person. I know my family come out and said about my ADHD while I was in the villa but that is no excuse for me. Yes, I might find certain things a lot more difficult than others but at the end of the day I need to take responsibility for my own actions and I’ll hold my hands up.

"I sometimes couldn’t watch how I was speaking and acting in certain situations but I’m actually glad I’ve watched it because now it’s really opened my eyes up and it’s time to work on myself for myself..


"I want to finish off and just say how overwhelming it is to see how much support Im getting from you people. If it wasn’t for yous I would be in such a worse head space than I am right now so thank you so much for that. You people that have had my back and messaging I have been reading them every night laid in bed overthinking everything and thinking the worst about everything but you people got me through it. I do really appreciate the love, honestly thank you so much ❤️."


In addition to his raw Instagram post, Jacques has been doing the media rounds (something that has concerned many of his fans). In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Jacques revealed, "I thought if I don’t get myself out (of the villa) things could go horribly wrong and I could get physical.”

He also revealed that "doing Love Island was the worst decision of my life.”

Fans have had plenty to say about Jacques on and offline since he left the villa, but concern ramped up following his recent appearance on Love Island: Aftersun. Many were quick to take to social media to share their concern for Jacques' wellbeing with countless fans wondering why he was "paraded" on the talkshow spin-off, after admitting to struggling mentally while filming the show.

One user tweeted, "you can tell jacques is genuinely not okay right now itv let him go home #LoveIsland #aftersun."

Another appeared to call out producers for not putting Jacques' welfare first, "how have these producers put jacques on THIS aftersun finding out paige kissed adam live?? AFTER HE LEFT FOR HIS MENTAL HEALTH #loveisland #aftersun."

A third fan added, "After that interview on aftersun jacques needs to look after his mental health. He looks so sad in his eyes. I don’t think what he did was okay but it’s not worth tearing someone down to the point they look close to tears everytime he’s on tv. #loveisland."

Interestingly, Dr Ellie, who works on ITV's This Morning tweeted her concerns for Jacques, writing, "I hope you are giving #Jacques help @LoveIsland because he doesn’t seem in a good place.

"#LoveIsland He seems in distress and he needs taking care of.

"I don’t think parading him on #loveisland #aftersun was a kind idea."

Arriving as an early bombshell in the 2022 series, and as Gemma Owen's ex, Jacques set his sights on Paige Thorne and the pair were coupled up to the very end. However, during Casa Amor he had the ultimate test and failed because Casa Amor bombshell Cheyenne Kerr exposed what really happened while the OG girls were away. Jacques and Paige then had an argument after he failed to apologise about his behaviour and instead admitted he wanted to "test himself". The drama then resulted in Jacques receiving a lot of backlash and it led to his family speaking out and revealing that the 2022 has ADHD.

"Jacques was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 9 years old. By no means is this a get out clause for his actions but it is to show that he can fundamentally struggle with his emotions at times," they explained.

"He is an amazing person who I'm proud to call my friend/little brother. All the hate thrown towards Jacques doesn't go to him directly….It comes to his loved ones who have always supported him and not just whilst he is on Love Island.

"Love Island, although real. Is still a show where the producers do have control and we see 45minutes out of the 1440 in 24hours. Please be kind♥️."

Love S3 star Olivia Attwood opened up about managing ADHD on the show on Instagram this week

Who is Jacques O'Neill?

Love Island producers dropped bombshell Jacques O'Neill on the villa on day seven.

But don't be fooled by this dreamboat's enticing eyes and dangerously deep dimples, he entered the villa with BAGGAGE; a small carry on we've come to know as 19-year-old Gemma Owen, daughter of England football legend, Michael Owen.

Yep, unsurprisingly, these painfully attractive human beings managed to find each other and make it work over lockdown – well, until it didn't. The pair dated for eight months in 2020 and, according to Gemma, broke up a year and a half ago, which means they called it quits at the beginning of 2021.

Jacques O'Neil Love Island
Jacques O'Neil on a date with Paige Thorne ©ITV

So, plenty of Zoom dates and romantic, socially distant strolls to nowhere then? Jokes aside, this does mean that the reacquainted pair were brought back together in one of the least socially-distant environments on the planet - Love Island.

It sounds like Gemma is Jacques' most recent relationship, too. In an interview with ITV, he said, "I split up with my ex and then I was seeing someone else. I was concentrating so much on my rugby and then I had that injury. I think it needs to be the right person, at the right time. "

Jacques O'Neil Afia Tonkmor date
Jacques O'Neil and Afia and Tonkmor on their morning date ©ITV

Upon his arrival in the Love Island villa, Jacques went on romantic morning dates with single Islanders Afia Tonkmor and Paige Thorne. The girls received a text inviting them to the garden for a date.

Gemma Owen soon clocked that the new boy was her ex, Jacques, saying, "Oh my god, no, that's my ex boyfriend.”

New Love Island Bombshell Jacques O'Neill is Gemma Owen's ex
Did you know? New Love Island Bombshell Jacques O'Neill is Gemma Owen's ex ©ITV

Heading down to the garden, Afia met with Jacques and was keen to know more, establishing that he is in fact Gemma’s ex, Afia asked, “Did it end amicably?”

Jacques replied, “I wouldn’t say so, maybe not, I am not sure but we will have to find out won’t we?”

To be fair, if they broke up over Zoom, there could've been connectivity issues, which could've explained Jacques' puzzlement.

Jacques O'Neil Gemma Owen Love Island
Jacques O'Neil grabbed ex Gemma Owen for a chat ©ITV

Later in the day, Jacques and Gemma caught up privately over a chat.

He went on to couple up with Paige before having his turned by Casa Amore bombshells Cheyenne and Molly.

How old is Jacques O'Neill?

Jacques is 23 years old. He was born 8 May 1999, which only feels like yesterday to us, so perhaps this explains why he's having trouble wiping.

What does Jacques O'Neill do for a living?

Before appearing on Love Island, Jacques was a professional rugby league player. He most recently played as a hooker or loose forward for the Castleford Tigers in the Betfred Super League.

Where is Jacques O'Neill from?

Lots of Islanders seemed to struggle with this one upon Jacques' arrival, so allow us to clarify; Jacques is from Cumbria, so grew up close to the Peak District. He now lives in Leeds.

Does Jacques O'Neill have Instagram?

Not that we've looked or anything, but yes, yes he does. Follow him at @jacques9oneill_.

Why did Jacques O'Neill go on Love Island?

He says, "I had injury after injury with my hamstring last year. I had an operation and it was a bad time for me. I was saying to my mum the other day that I want a girl and to settle down. I’ve done all my bits."

And he's only 23.

WATCH: 'You Never Admitted That!' Dami, Indiyah, Paige, Adam & Andrew Address Love Island Rumours

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