Monday December 5, 2022
Shocked Three Lions players are beefing up security at their homes after armed burglars broke into Raheem Sterling's mansion while his partner and young children were inside, forcing the star to flee England's World Cup camp to be by their sides.Police were at the scene over the weekend and security were patrolling the luxurious estate late into the night on Sunday.
The Chelsea forward has rushed home from Qatar to check on the wellbeing of his family after being left 'shaken' by the raid on his gated property in leafy Cobham, Surrey on Saturday night.
Now many of Sterling's teammates are understood to be considering increasing their own levels of personal protection, with the raid being the latest in a string of burglaries on footballer's homes.
Most of the players' WAGs were in the Al Bayt Stadium for England's comfortable 3-0 win over Senegal on Sunday.
However, many have been flying back and forth from Qatar during the tournament to juggle their own careers as well as looking after young children.
Sterling's partner Paige Milian, 27, posted pictures on a cruise ship in Doha before the Iran game last month, but was back in the UK at the time of the raid on Saturday.
A statement released 90 minutes before kick off last night revealed that Sterling - one of Gareth Southgate's most trusted lieutenants in major tournaments - would miss the last 16 clash to deal with a 'family matter'.
News of Sterling omission, and the shocking circumstances that caused it, was not relayed to the players until the team meeting just prior to leaving for the Al Bayt Stadium.
Southgate confirmed the winger would be leaving the camp to fly back to the UK, but didn't set a timescale on when he was expected back.
Around £300,000 of watches are thought to have been stolen in the raid, a family source told the Sun.
Locals told MailOnline that police investigating the burglary had been and gone from the scene, and that security had been patrolling late into the night.
Sterling, a father of three, was also targeted by burglars when he played for Manchester City and lived in Cheshire in 2018.
But the gang were scared away when the alarm system was activated and left empty-handed.
While it is not known if and when Sterling will return to the England camp, he has been determined to play a pivotal role in their quest to win the World Cup for the first time since 1996 and only the wellbeing of his children has pushed him to take the decision to leave the rest of the squad to fly home.
Speaking after the Three Lions' victory over Senegal, Southgate said of Sterling: 'The priority for him is to be with his family.
'We're going to support that and leave him to have as much time as he needs.
'He's going home. I don't want to put him under pressure. Sometimes football isn't the most important thing, family should come first.'
Sterling has three children: his daughter, and eldest, Melody Rose, as well as two sons, Thiago and Thai.
England's captain, Harry Kane, said: 'Our thoughts are with him and his family. It's a private matter but it's never easy to see one of your teammates and friends deal with something like that.
'We'll have to take it day by day. I'm sure Raheem will speak to the manager and take the best decision for him an his family. That's the most important thing. We send him our best wishes and hope to see him as soon as possible.'
Jordan Henderson appeared to make a subtle gesture of support to his teammate by wearing the star's No10 shorts when the players met up with their families in the stands after full time.
He added: 'It's a blow but I hope everything is OK with Raheem's family at home. I hope he goes back and can sort everything out.
'I'm not sure if he can come back, I suppose he will have to assess when he's there but all our thoughts and support are with him.'
Other former players also lent their support, as Gary Lineker tweeted: 'Thoughts are with @sterling7 and his family after their awful and harrowing ordeal.'
Stan Collymore added: 'Sending best wishes to Raheem Sterling and family. Truly awful , frightening and callous.'
It remains unclear if he will play any further part for England in Qatar, ahead of their quarter-final with France on Saturday night.
It is the latest in a string of burglaries on high-profile footballers, after a court heard earlier this year how former Arsenal and Chelsea star Ashley Cole accepted 'I am going to die' as masked raiders smashed into his home, binding his hands as he held his young daughter.
The legendary defender revealed how four men broke into his Surrey home in January 2020 as he watched Netflix.
The masked gang were about to torture the former player by cutting off his fingers with electricians pliers when police suddenly arrived and they fled.
They had prepared him for the ordeal by dragging him downstairs and making him think they were going throw acid on his face or burn him alive.
Meanwhile, Manchester United said this year they would review security after young star Tahith Chong was burgled at knifepoint at his home - the fourth player to to be raided in recent months.
Chong was at home in Sale, Greater Manchester recovering from a groin injury in January when three balaclava-clad men reportedly broke in and 'held blades to his throat'.
The footballer was asleep when the thugs broke in at around 3am on January 16 and they took items including watches and jewellery.
They also reportedly mocked his lack of security during the terrifying raid.
Chong was the fourth Manchester United star to have his home burgled in recent months, after Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof and Jesse Lingard.
Manchester City star Joao Cancelo was also the victim of a robbery, with the defender sharing photos of his bruised face after thugs struck him during the raid on his home.
England have been in Qatar for almost three weeks and Sterling started their opening games against Iran and USA, scoring in the first and playing a total of 139 minutes across the two fixtures.
He was an unused substitute as Southgate made changes for the final group game against Wales.
On Wednesday, England confirmed that defender Ben White had left the group and flown home due to a personal matter.
The FA confirmed the Arsenal defender, who was yet to feature for Gareth Southgate's side in Qatar, left the team's training camp in Al Wakrah.
Their statement added that White was not expected to return to Qatar.
'Ben White has left England's training base in Al Wakrah and returned home for personal reasons,' read the statement.
'The Arsenal defender is not expected to return to the squad for the remainder of the tournament.
'We ask that the player's privacy is respected at this moment in time.'
His club Arsenal on Wednesday night tweeted: 'We're all with you, Ben.'
England took on African champions Senegal on Sunday in the last-16 in the knowledge that victory would set up a glamour quarter-final with France on Saturday, after they defeated Poland 3-1 earlier in the day.
Southgate made one change from the rout of Wales, replacing two-goal scorer Rashford with Saka.
England looked shaky in the early stages but soon found their groove as goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Saka ensured victory.