England footballer Adam Johnson was tonight being questioned over allegations of under-age sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Mr Johnson, 27, has been suspended by his club, the Premier League side Sunderland, until the conclusion of the police investigation.
The winger had been due to travel with the rest of the squad for Tuesday night’s fixture at Hull City. He was released on bail on Monday night and has been asked to return to Peterlee police station at a later date.
Police were searching his £1.8m home in County Durham that he reportedly shares with his long-term girlfriend. Neighbours told The Sun newspaper that officers were searching a triple garage in the grounds of the property after they arrived this morning.
A police spokesman said: “A 27-year-old man was arrested earlier today on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16. He remains in police custody and is helping officers with their inquiries.”
A loaded gun was also reportedly found at the six-bedroom property. It is thought that the weapon was legally held.
Johnson began his career at Middlesbrough and made his debut in a UEFA cup game in 2005 at the age of 17. The footballer’s future in the game appeared rosy when he was signed by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini from Middlesbrough.
He was one of the earliest high-profile acquisitions following the takeover of the club buy wealthy Arab owners headed by Sheikh Mansour, and initially enjoyed a successful run in the team.
But injury in the season after he signed hampered his progress and he fell out of favour with the club’s leadership, including Mancini. His place in the team was taken by newly-signed talented foreign players, such as Samir Nasri and David Silva, and he was frequently left on the bench. Nevertheless, he played 97 games during his time at Manchester City and secured a Premier League winners’ medal.
Despite his popularity with teammates, he left the club to sign for his hometown side Sunderland for £10m in 2012 in a bid to secure more first-team football.
The pacy midfielder has represented England at under-19 and under-21 level, and at senior level 12 times, the last of them in a friendly victory over Italy in August 2012. However he has not played for his country since he signed for Sunderland, who are currently struggling in the lower reachers of the Premier League.
He has scored 17 times for the club, but has struggled to reproduce his best form on a sustained basis. Yet he endeared himself to fans with goals in each of the club’s three derby victories at Newcastle in as many seasons, including a late winner at St James’ Park on December 21 last year.
“Sunderland AFC has confirmed that Adam Johnson has been suspended from the club, pending the outcome of a police investigation,” the club said in a statement last night. “No further comment will be made at the present time.”