Jermaine Pennant: Former winger says players must "stay humble" to deter criminals

Share this with Email Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with Whatsapp

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jermaine Pennant played for Liverpool between 2006 and 2009

Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant has warned footballers must be more vigilant after the latest case of criminals targeting players.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were involved in a carjacking attempt by an armed gang in London in July.

Now retired, Pennant, 36, has advised modern day players to "stay humble" to avoid becoming easy targets.

"Now it's probably even worse because the money in football from TV has gone through the sky," he told BBC Sport.

"Players are getting paid a lot more and it's documented in the media. People are aware of how much footballers get paid, especially the high profile ones which we've seen recently on social media.

"Social media is a big thing. When you're - I wouldn't say showing off - but showing what you're worth, the goods you've got - you're entitled to and so you should be - but it gives more of an easy target."

Scarring experiences and circling roundabouts twice

In 2016, then West Ham striker Andy Carroll "feared for his life" as he was threatened at gunpoint on his way home from training, while in 2017 Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino became the latest Merseyside-based footballer - alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney and Romelu Lukaku - to have their property burgled.

Nottingham-born Pennant, who also had spells at Birmingham City and Stoke City, was involved in two such incidents as a player.

Criminals attempted to break into his home in Liverpool by ramming a car repeatedly into the property as he slept, and on a night out with former Arsenal team-mate Ashley Cole the pair were attacked for jewellery they were wearing.

Pennant says those experiences left a "scar" and made him think twice about his and his family's security - as well as wearing certain items. He also took preventive measures on the advice of police, for example circling roundabouts twice to check nobody was following.

"It definitely did go through my mind, but at the same time I think I should be within my right to wear whatever I like, especially when I've earned it," he said.

"If you're playing away in Europe, people know you're not at home. At the back of your mind you are thinking is my house safe, are my family safe. You start thinking about security which I know players do have now for that sole reason - that their families are vulnerable.

"There are some players who do go out with a bodyguard or security - not to give any big ego but more for the safety of the individual - to not get in an incident where you are going to be approached or held up at gunpoint or with a knife."

On his advice to those still playing, Pennant added: "Pretend you've got nothing. It's hard because if you're young sometimes you want to just enjoy it. I'd say be cautious, be careful where you go and keep a close eye on your surroundings."