The partner of the England footballer Emile Heskey has been held at knifepoint while thieves ransacked the couple's home. Heskey, 30, a striker who plays for Wigan Athletic, was at training when his mansion in Hale, Greater Manchester, was targeted – the latest in a string of burglaries of footballers' homes.
Two raiders climbed the house gates and forced their way inside the property. One of the men held a knife to Chantelle Tagoe while the other collected valuables, before demanding the keys to the couple's 4x4 BMW and driving off. The couple's two young children were also in the house.
Police would not release details of the items stolen, explaining that Heskey had asked that they not be made public. A police source said no medals or trophies were taken, although the items were of "personal significance" and "substantial value".
The homes in the affluent area are watched over by a private security firm. "There's a lot of building work going on at the house next door," said a neighbour, "so there are cars and vans coming and going all day. So no one noticed anything unusual. It's horrific. The police have advised us to be careful – it must have been so scary for her."
A Wigan Athletic spokesman said: "We can confirm there was an incident last Wednesday at Emile Heskey's home. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The matter is being handled by police and the player and club do not wish to comment any further."
Heskey became Wigan's most expensive player when he signed from Birmingham City in a £5.5m deal two seasons ago. It is not the first time his home has been broken into. He is thought to have been the victim of a burglary during his time as a player at Liverpool.
He is the latest victim in a series of violent robberies that interrupt the otherwise pampered existence of top-class footballers in Britain.
In December, Steven Gerrard became the sixth Liverpool player in 18 months to be targeted by robbers while away with the club for European cup match. A gang of four hooded robbers raided his £1m mansion on Merseyside and escaped with thousands of pounds worth of jewellery while his wife, Alex Curran, was inside with a friend. Gerrard's playing colleagues Dirk Kuyt, Jerzy Dudek, Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger and Peter Crouch have been similarly targeted.
Bolton Wanderers players have also suffered at the hands of thieves. Ian Walker was burgled after his house appeared on MTV's celebrity homes show, Cribs, in 2005, and last October, burglars stole an £80,000 sports BMW during a raid on the home of Stelios Giannakopoulos, in Whittle-le-Woods, near Chorley.
Thieves seeking a soft target should consider, however, the case of Carl Bishop, who tried to burgle the Merseyside home of Everton's Scottish striker Duncan Ferguson in 2003. Bishop, who tried to smash a bottle on Ferguson's head, required two days in hospital after the player punched him in the face.