FOOTBALLERS can afford the ultimate luxuries in life, like sprawling homes, cars and expensive jewellery thanks to their hefty salaries.
But unfortunately that makes them easy prey for opportunist thieves – who’ll target anything of value to steal.
Manchester City ace Kyle Walker beefed up his security detail – buying a doberman for £40,000 from guard dog specialists Chaperone K9.
Last year, Dele Alli became was a victim of a robbery, where two burglars broke into his North London home, assaulted him before taking off with expensive watches, including a £150,000 Richard Mille 11-03, a £150,000 Patek Philippe 5980 Nautilus and a £50,000 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chrono.
Then in 2019, ex-Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were chased by a moped gang, who tried to car-jack the German playmaker’s Mercedes G-Wagon, as the pair drove along a North London road.
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was burgled when he was on Champions League duty with the Reds, who were playing away against Bayern Munich.
While the Senegalese forward was tormenting the Bavarians, his mansion was being ransacked by burglars, who nicked items including mobile phones, car keys and designer watches.
But what security measures do footballers take to keep themselves safe from harm?
IN THE CASE OF DELE
Since having his timepieces nicked, Dele tried to make them too hot to handle and circulated their makes and models.
And his football pals told him they would pass on the details to their watchmakers in the hope they could catch the thieves.
A source told The Sun at the time: “These robbers might think they have hit the jackpot stealing these watches, but they are going to face real problems cashing them in.
“Footballers use a handful of dealers and none will touch a stolen watch because they know it could cause serious problems down the line.
“It’s not unusual for cops in Dubai and Italy to demand to see papers for watches when passengers pass through security.
“Can you imagine if a watch stolen in a violent robbery ends up on a wrist of a player who then gets arrested?
“Dele is well connected through the England squad and knows players in Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and London where all the main dealers are.
“These dealers know if they accidentally bought any watch that turned out to be one of Dele’s, then they would never sell to a footballer again.”
One of the big trends in the last few years has seen footballers installing bulletproof panic rooms inside their lavish properties.
Costing anywhere from between £40k to £1m, they provide a secure hiding spot for families at home during a burglary.
David Beckham recently installed one in his family’s Kensington abode, along with a 24-hour, 60-camera CCTV system.
Paul Weldon, managing director of The Panic Room, fits them for high-profile clients around Europe.
He told us: “A panic room is a room that’s self-contained, that if the house becomes under some form of aggravated break-in, the family can get into that room, be safe and secure and have some independent communication to call for help.
“In a residential home, we try to locate somewhere on the first bedroom floor where there’s a closet of two metres by two metres that can double up as a fully-blown panic room.
“Generally, our rooms are installed inside an existing room and they have the capability to withstand bullets from a handgun and a shotgun.
“They range from about £40,000 to £1m in price – and clients don’t just use them to protect themselves, they’ll store specialist wines, art work, and put their safes in there too.
“But you have to remember, a panic room is a last resort. With a big, detached property you’ve got to incorporate other systems.
“It may be at night you set perimeter alarms, or a ground floor alarm. So at least you’ve got some warning that someone is knocking around.
“If the alarm activates outside, you can get your family inside a panic room and call the police. But it’s got to be used with other security features of a property.”
SPECIALLY-TRAINED GUARD DOGS
Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Mark Noble, Phil Jones, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jesse Lingard all swear by Chaperone K9 – a Leicestershire-based company that provides specially trained guard dogs to protect Premier League footballers’ families.
The majority of dogs they provide are German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois, and each pooch has been put through a rigorous 12-month plus training programme.
According to Chaperone K9’s website, the dogs are able to recognise and deal with a number of different threats, including home invasion, road rage, personal attacks on the person and their family and robbery.
Once given a command, they will spring into action with an apparent initial display of aggression to ward a potential assailant off simply by barking.
If there is more than one attacker, they are taught to position themselves between you and the potential threat, continuously barking to keep the assailants at bay.
And should the assailant continue to pose you a danger, a Chaperone K9 has learned, on command, to bite and hold the attacker until you tell the dog to release them.
Since the Alli incident, more footballers have said to have invested in the ferocious guard dogs – also using rival firm Elite Protection, like Hugo Lloris.
When you’re as famous as someone like the Beckhams, surrounding yourself and your children with burly security guards is a necessity.
On the school run in LA, former members of the SAS would flank the family’s brood before they went to class.
And when Brazil captain Dani Alves was at PSG, Titan Security were asked to look after his safety during a meet and greet.
“When Dani launched his new clothing line in Paris, we supplied security staff for him,” Matthew Watson, director for Titan Security Europe explained.
“Measures were taken in store where Dani was signing autographs and posing for photos with fans.
“Crowd control and proximity of general public in this setting had to be considered due to the nature of it being a high-profile footballer, as well as two-way earpiece radio support to bodyguards on site.”
Watson believes in the wake of the recent incidents more footballers will seek personal security.
“In light of recent events, anticipation is for this market to continue to grow,” he said.
“Affluent footballers are often a target due to lack of security around them, and they are very much in the public eye.
“While brazen attempts to rob these individuals is becoming more frequent, with salary’s being posted and shared on social media.
“That means footballers today are at risk more than ever.”
RAISING AN ALARM
Shield Security provide alarms and systems for footballers in the Yorkshire and Humber region, as well as the North of England.
When Southampton forward Shane Long was plying his trade at Hull City, he enlisted their services.
“During my time with Premier League football club Hull City, my family were fortunate enough to benefit from the services of Shield Security,” he revealed.
“As a professional footballer, I often spend a great deal of time away from home, and with that in mind, my wife and I wanted the best security protection for our family.”
Not only does Shield offer state-of-the-art alarms that can detect the most cunning intruder, they also offer security staff that stay at the home overnight, which is something Long invested in ahead of Hull’s ill-fated Europa League campaign in 2014.
“We can offer guards to patrol the premises for footballers when they’re away, which is a decent visual deterrent,” Shield Security manager Alex Lee told us.
“While some of the clients will request patrol cars visit four or five times a night to have a look around the premises.
“But it’s mostly going technology-wise now. What happens with these burglaries is the robbers tend to know when a footballer is going away, so it’s pretty hard to prevent against.”
Lee revealed that footballers are spending up to £20k to ensure their mansions are covered by alarms, cameras and barrier fences.
“A lot of footballers tend to live in houses that have gated houses.
“So the first port of call is a gated intercom. They have a video camera pointing at the entrance and that goes direct to an app on their mobile phones.
“There could also be cameras right around the site, with some players even doing internal cameras by their back doors, as well as intruder alarms.
“We install perimeter fences too that have a laser going from pillar to pillar, so any movement over that and an alarm will be triggered.
“It’s not too different to what your average Joe is getting really, but the only difference is it’s on a larger scale because of the size of their houses.
“Most footballers’ homes are five bedroom homes, so they’re spending anywhere from £5,000 to £20,000.
“But if that’s the price of keeping them and their family safe, they will happily pay that.”