Every popular sport has the glamour aspect automatically attached to it regardless of whether one wants it or not. Being a footballer is no different as for a game that is most widely recognised and played, the players are bound to be the main attraction and are under the spotlight for whatever they do.And when you have lots of green paper at your disposal, and the outstanding houses with garages that harbour the best hot wheels in town, you definitely become a priority target for the poachers who always are on the hunt to rob the rich.And on some occasions, they have been unfortunate to be caught in uncalled situations where even their lives have been at stake. Here, we take a look at the five footballers who have been victims of crime.
#5 Pepe Reina
2007 was a great year for the Premier League clubs in the UEFA Champions League as three teams made it into the semi finals of the tournament. Liverpool and Chelsea were drawn against each other while Manchester United had one hurdle on their way to the final in the form of sole Italian representatives AC Milan.
And Liverpool managed to edge out thier English counterparts after a penalty shootout victory to reach the finals of the competition. As delighted as the players were on reaching their second final in three years, it didn’t turn out to be a happy homecoming for then Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina who saved two penalties against the Blues and was virtually responsible for setting up a final clash against Milan.
He returned home after midnight to find jewellery, a Bang and Olufsen entertainment system, personal documents and a Porsche from his Woolton home stolen by burglars who had invaded his home.
The Porsche was found burnt out in the West Derby area of Liverpool as reported by Merseyside police. Reina did not wish to comment on the incident. On the bright side, Liverpool did end up making it to the Champions League final earning a runners up medals.
#4 Patrick Vieira
Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira joined the list of footballers who have been victims of crime when he was at Inter Milan back in 2006. The Frechman was at his villa on the French Riviera in Cannes with his wife Cheryl and daughter Cheries when a group of intruders pumped in gas through the air-conditioning system as it worked as an anesthesizer and knocked them out.
The group of burglars broke into his house then and stole valuable goods that were estimated to be around €1m. Vieira’s English-registered Mercedes 4x4 was also taken along with some jewellery. It happened around dawn as Vieira and his family woke up feeling unwell and to see that there home had been raided.
Five people were arrested later as suspects for the crime by the French police in Nice and the car was tracked down and found. However Vieira and his Inter team mate Sully Muntari who also had a burglary incident at his home refused to substantiate the incident later.
#3 Roberto Carlos
Can you ever imagine someone holding a gun to your face while giving an interview? Well that bizarre incident occured in Brazil and on the receiving end of it was the country’s greatest left back Roberto Carlos.
Carlos spent more than a decade of his career at the Santiago Bernabeu since joining the Spanish outfit in 1996. The full back was an instrumental part before and during the Galaticos project winning three Champions League medals with the capital club. His success at the club level was also replicated on the international circuit with Brazil who won the World Cup in emphatic manner in 2002.
But even a World Cup medal for your country doesn’t save your from the criminal activties that are something of a common occurence in Brazil. The Blancos defender was travelling as a passenger in a car in Belo Horizonte and was speaking to Radio Jovem Pam on his mobile when two men shattered the window glass and pulled out their guns demanding everything they had in possession.
After getting robbed, the Brazilian explained the incident to the live station stating that the robbers did not recognise him.
"I have just been robbed while I am talking from my car. Oh Jesus, I have been robbed,'' Carlos told the radio station.
"They didn't recognise me because I was sitting in the back seat. I am shocked and very scared.''
#2 Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria never felt at home in England since he made his switch to Manchester United from Spain. And by at home, we literally mean getting scared in his residence while trying to have a peaceful night after United’s 3-1 win against Leicester City.
The former Real Madrid man and his family were victims of an attempted Burglary last season just moments after United’s match against Leicester. Back from the game, the Argentine was enjoying his dinner at his house in Cheshire when their patio doors were smashed by scaffolding poles by three men.
They fled empty-handed when an alarm went off but the player who joined for a British record fee of £59.7m was said to have been shaken by the incident. Di María and his family were said to have been taken to a hotel by United’s security staff.
#1 Andres Escobar
Perhaps the greatest tragedy in the history of the game, defender Andres Escobar had his life taken away for the sport that he loved and represented the country for. Representing Colombia in the 1994 World Cup, the centre-back made an unintentional error that although made him famous, came at the expense of becoming the epitaph on his obituary.
Playing against the host nation United States which was Colombia’s second game in the World Cup, Escobar scored an own goal which ultimately became a deciding factor as the scoreline ended in 2-1 defeat for the South Americans.
Five days after the elimination of Colombia, Escobar, instead of visiting his relatives in Las Vegas, Nevada, decided to return to his homeland and was with his friends at "El Indio" nightclub. At around 3 am in the morning, he split up with his friends and was alone in the parking lot when three men came up to him and started arguing.
And before he could understand the situation, two of them pulled out a .38 caliber gun and shot him six times leaving him in cold blood. Escobar was rushed to the hospital but was announced dead.
Escobar's funeral was attended by over 120,000 peopleand to this day people honour him by bringing photographs of him to matches. In July 2002, the city of Medellín unveiled a statue in honour of his memory.