The Liverpool and England footballer Steven Gerrard remained in custody last night after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting a nightclub DJ in a late-night brawl at a bar in Merseyside.
The 28-year-old was held in the early hours of yesterday morning after the fight at the Lounge Inn, Southport. He had been drinking with friends and relatives after his team's 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon. Five other men were arrested.
The Liverpool captain, who is thought to earn £120,000 per week, spent the night in cells at Southport police station. Yesterday he was still being questioned by officers there.
A police spokesman said: "Merseyside Police is investigating an assault that took place in the early hours of Monday 29 December on Bold Street in Southport. At about 2.30am, officers attended a disturbance at a licensed premises on Bold Street."
Gerrard, who lives seven miles away in Formby, and five other men were detained a short distance from the bar, on Lord Street. A police source said that Gerrard and the five other men appeared to be drunk and were left in the cells overnight to "sober up and rest" before being interviewed.
Four of the men – aged 33, 31, 29 and 19 – are from the Huyton area of Merseyside, the region that Gerrard grew up in. They are said to be a mixture of friends and relatives of the midfielder. The fifth man is an 18-year-old from Litherland, west Merseyside.
The victim, a 34-year-old man from Southport, is a DJ at the Lounge Inn, a restaurant-cum-late-night bar and nightclub. He was taken to hospital with facial injuries described by police as non life-threatening.
Gerrard had visited the bar on Sunday evening, hours after he scored two goals in Liverpool's emphatic victory at Newcastle. About an hour before the fracas, he posed for pictures with a young fan.
Outside the Lounge Inn yesterday, a black Bentley, thought to be Gerrard's, sat with a parking ticket on its windscreen. A man claiming to be the footballer's friend later drove the car away and denied it was the Liverpool's player's vehicle.
Inside the bar, which was closed throughout the day, there were blood stains and shards of glass on the floor. The sister of the bar's co-owner, Dario Curcillo, said the footballer had been in the club to celebrate his team's win earlier in the day: "As far as I know, he comes here regularly and it was just a normal night at the bar. I don't know anything about what happened last night."
A spokesman for Liverpool Football Club refused to comment on its star midfielder's arrest, although it is known that club officials met with lawyers to discuss the situation yesterday afternoon. It is not the first time Gerrard has been embroiled in controversy after a night out in Southport – a seaside resort popular with revellers from both Liverpool and Manchester.
In 2001, he was criticised in the press for drinking in the town the day before he was due to report for England duty – and six days ahead of the team's crucial World Cup qualifying match against Greece. In his autobiography, Gerrard denied that he ever apologised to the England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
He added: "I was 21 and entitled to a bit of fun. This [the media coverage] was ridiculous. If I had been out of the town getting rotten, stinking drunk until five in the morning then I could understand but I had two beers and a couple of glasses of coke. I was out trying to pull a few birds, not trying to get drunk."
Gerrard has since married and had two children with his wife, Alex Curran, who was yesterday seen in Southport near the police station.
It is not the first time his family's life has been touched by crime. Earlier this year, the star and his father provided a courtroom character reference for a gangster who had helped their family. John Kinsella, 43, was enlisted by the Gerrards to warn off another Merseyside gangster who tried to extort money from the Liverpool star.
And in August 2006 Ms Curran, 26, was arrested on suspicion of assault after an altercation outside a Liverpool restaurant. She was later cleared.Reuse content