LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 26 – Arsenal footballers Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil fought off knife-wielding car-jackers in a terrifying ordeal in London captured on video circulating Friday on social media.
In the footage, Kolasinac is seen outside the vehicle confronting two masked aggressors, who had pulled up alongside the car on mopeds. Former Germany midfielder Ozil, who was driving, was inside the vehicle.
The incident happened in broad daylight in a plush part of north London on Thursday.
Kolasinac confronted a first aggressor on the passenger side of the vehicle, who appeared to be brandishing a knife at the 26-year-old Bosnia defender, then approached another who came around the back, the footage showed.
The Daily Mail reported that the chase continued for about a mile as they fled to a Turkish restaurant where they are regulars.
“Ozil looked absolutely terrified, as anybody would after being chased by men with knives,” financial worker Azuka Alintah, 36, told MailOnline.
“He looked like he was running for his life. And I suppose he was. I saw him disappear into the restaurant with the motorcycle guys on his tail,” he said.
“They didn’t take off their helmets and were all in black, wearing long sleeved tops in this hot weather. They stood out,” he added.
Thursday was the hottest July day on record in Britain, with temperatures hitting 38.1 degrees Celsius (100.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
– ‘Bricks thrown’ –
Yasmin Tahsiner, the joint owner of the Turkish restaurant, told German broadcaster NTV: “They were followed by two people on a motorbike, they tried to break the windscreen and threw bricks at the car.”
Ozil’s newlywed wife Amine Gulse, a former Miss Turkey, was with her husband. The couple married in June with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in attendance.
“Her hands were shaking, but I can’t blame her for that. I would have also been afraid,” said Tahsiner.
“Put yourself in Mrs Ozil’s place: it was the middle of the day, they were on a London high street and people have been chasing you.”
A spokesman for English Premier League club Arsenal said: “We have been in contact with both players and they are fine.”
The club declined to comment further when contacted on Friday.
Police confirmed that they had responded to reports of an attempted robbery.
“It was reported that suspects on motorbikes had attempted to rob a man who was driving a car,” a spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police told AFP.
“The driver, along with his passenger, managed to get away unharmed and travelled to a restaurant in Golders Green, where they were spoken to by officers.
“There have been no arrests. Enquiries continue.”
– Knife crime surge –
There has been a sharp increase in knife crime in London in recent years.
Over 5,500 people were injured or killed by knife crime in London in the 12 months to October 2018 — a record level.
The owner of the property outside which the footballers were attacked has said he has been targeted five times in the same area.
The man, who drives high-profile cars and chose not to be named, told Britain’s domestic Press Association news agency that he had a knife held to his neck at midday in one incident.
“It’s about time the police pulled their finger out,” he said.
“The situation has gone too far… it’s out of control.”
Arsenal are due to host French club Lyon in a friendly at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, then travel to Angers in France for another friendly on Wednesday.
The Gunners’ first competitive match of the season is on August 11 at Newcastle.
Arsenal finished fifth in the English Premier League last season, narrowly missing out on a spot in the Champions League.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery is expected to rely more heavily on 30-year-old Ozil this season after midfielder Aaron Ramsey left on a free transfer to Juventus.
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