Player robbed of £60,000 at knifepoint

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The Independent Online

The Chelsea footballer Juan Sebastian Veron and his girlfriend were forced to hand over jewellery worth £60,000 by a burglar wielding a machete who broke into their London home over the weekend.

Argentinian Veron, 28, and his girlfriend, Maria Vinaccia woke to find the intruder in their bedroom at around 7.30am on Sunday.

A window had been forced in their luxury house in Barnes, west London.

Scotland Yard sources yesterday confirmed the break-in, saying that the burglar had made threats about the footballer's two children to force the couple to hand over their valuables.

The knife-point robbery is the second time someone from the west London football club has been the victim of an attack while at home. In an unrelated incident, the club's vice-president, Joe Hemani, and his teenage daughter were assaulted by a balaclava-clad gang who broke into their £3m riverside mansion in Berkshire.

Police said the raid on Veron's house had left its victims terrified. One source said: "Obviously this was an extremely frightening experience. There were threats made against the children."

Veron and his girlfriendwere among at least six people sleeping in the house when the burglary took place.

Their children, Lara, four, and two-year-old Deian, were in a separate room. It is understood one of the youngsters wandered into the main bedroom while the raid was taking place. After handing over jewellery worth £60,000, the couple and two other women staying at the house were forced into a bathroom and ordered not to move.

It was only when a vehicle was heard driving away that the family raised the alarm and called in detectives.

The Yard last night declined to comment on whether they thought the publicity surrounding Chelsea since Mr Abramovich paid £140m for it last July has made the club a target for the criminal underworld.