For the average Premier League footballer kicking around with nothing to do in the Cheshire stockbroker belt, a spot of light midweek window shopping might seem a natural and harmless enough way to while away the dead time between matches.
But for Everton's Victor Anichebe, currently sporting a plaster-cast on his leg after a crunching on-field tackle forced him out of action for the rest of the season, a hobble along upmarket King Street in the gentle market town of Knutsford was to bring him to the unwanted attention of the local forces of law and order.
The Nigeria-born striker has received an apology from Cheshire police after he and a friend were stopped and questioned by officers investigating a gang responsible for a spate of violent break-ins at jewellers in the town and surrounding villages so favoured by Britain's top footballers and their spouses.
Police swooped from a patrol car on Wednesday afternoon after the 20-year-old and a friend were picked up on CCTV cameras allegedly acting suspiciously while outside Geralds of Knutsford, a boutique famous among the Bentley and Rolex brigade of the North-west for its bespoke jewellery. Following a "heated dialogue" in which the men vigorously denied casing the joint in preparation for a later break-in, and claiming that perhaps white window shoppers might not expect to receive the same level of attention, Anichebe's unnamed companion was handcuffed.
A Cheshire police spokesman said that, after looking at the details of the incident, the force was now prepared to apologise. "Having now reviewed in detail what occurred between the officers and the two men who they believed to have been acting suspiciously, it is now apparent that, while the situation was heated, the actions of the police officer in applying handcuffs to one of the men was less than a proportionate reaction to the requirements of the situation. The officer has been advised regarding this, and an offer of apology extended to the two men," he said.
A spokeswoman at Geralds said the shop had been closed at the time of the incident and the windows empty of stock. "It has nothing to do with our shop," she added.
Anichebe, who won a silver medal at last summer's Olympics while playing for his birth country in Beijing, was said to have been "deeply upset and very distressed" after his ordeal. But an Everton spokesman, Ian Ross, said once he had received the apology "the player will consider the matter closed."
It is the culmination of a frustrating period in the life of the young forward who grew up on Merseyside and went on to join Everton's youth academy. The former young player of the year was recently reported to have been involved in a training ground bust-up with the club's manager, David Moyes. His attempts to get a loan to rivals Hull FC fell through at the last moment and last month he was ruled out for the remainder of the season after being pole-axed in a tackle against Newcastle United, which required him to undergo surgery.Reuse content