Footballer robbed on his doorstep

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Police have appealed for information after Alexander Merkel was robbed on his doorstep Police have appealed for information after Alexander Merkel was robbed on his doorstep

A Championship footballer was robbed on the doorstep of his home by a gang who tried to batter down his front door with mopeds.

The raiders attempted to smash their way into Watford midfielder Alexander Merkel's West Hampstead home in west London, first kicking and then ramming the door with their bikes.

When the 22-year-old German came out to investigate, a male suspect thought to have an Irish accent asked for "Johnny" and then tried to grab his watch.

A struggle ensued, with a second male suspect seizing the opportunity to go into the property and take a bag.

The pair of robbers then jumped on mopeds, one black and the other blue and driven by two other suspects, and made their getaway towards Hampstead.

A neighbour told the Evening Standard: "I saw guys shouting and banging on the door and the young man living there came out.

"It was a frightening scene. I called police immediately. The man who lives there drives a Maserati and obviously has a lot of money. He is a footballer and has not lived there long."

Another said that the attackers had used their bikes to ram the door after kicking it and bouncing off "in a comical fashion".

Merkel, who is tipped as a rising star of German football, is thought to have been renting the property while on loan to Watford from Italian side Udinese when the attack took place on May 2 at around 10.30pm.

He is currently away on holiday and Watford FC have yet to make a decision on whether he will return to Vicarage Road next season.

After joining on loan in January until the end of the season, the young pro played 11 games for the Hornets.

He was sent off on his debut in a 1-0 defeat by Reading and scored his only goal in a 3-0 win against Barnsley.

Police said the two suspects who approached the property are aged between 18 and 25, one 6ft tall with a slim build and Irish accent and the other 6ft 2in tall and medium build.

The raid came after similar moped gang raids forced residents in Hampstead Garden Suburb to fit metal bars on to windows and reinforce front doors.

Detective constable Andy Palmer, Camden Acquisitive Crime Unit, said: "I would like to hear from anyone who saw or has information about this incident.

"I am sure this gang is known to certain members of the community so I would urge them to contact police before someone is seriously hurt."

In a statement Watford FC said: "We do not comment on private matters involving the club's playing squad."

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