SPORT: Football
Manchester United player Tahith Chong robbed at knifepoint in latest masked gang attack on city footballers.

Masked loot­ers broke into the home of a Man­ches­ter Unit­ed star and held him at knife point as they stole thou­sands of pounds worth of property.

Three men in bal­a­clavas broke in at 3am as Tahith Chong, 22, was sleep­ing — before hold­ing blades to his throat.

The thieves demand­ed that he hand over items includ­ing jew­el­ry, watch­es and wom­en’s design­er bags.

The brazen intrud­ers even taunt­ed wing­man Chong about his poor secu­ri­ty while they con­duct­ed the raid.

Ris­ing star Chong has become the lat­est high-pro­file soc­cer play­er to fall vic­tim to gangs tar­get­ing wealthy play­ers in the Northwest.

It is the fifth bur­glary at the home of a Unit­ed or City star in an area south of Man­ches­ter since Christmas.

Last night, a source said of Chong: “It was a hor­ri­ble expe­ri­ence for him.

“He was wok­en up by the sight of three armed men wear­ing bal­a­clavas and hold­ing knives to his throat.

“They also shone torch­es in his eyes and ordered him to stand up and give them items, includ­ing watches.

“It seemed like they knew what they were doing and what they were after,” he said.

“They knew who the play­er was and called him by name.

“And they even told him that he real­ly need­ed to upgrade his secu­ri­ty or that it might hap­pen again.

“It was chill­ing. He was left extreme­ly shaken.

“The gang was pro­fes­sion­al and seemed to have done it before, maybe to oth­er players.”

The ter­ri­fy­ing raid occurred at Chong’s home in Sale, Greater Man­ches­ter, on Sun­day, Jan­u­ary 16.

Police were lat­er called and report­ed­ly warned the play­er that the intrud­ers may have been mon­i­tor­ing his social net­works for signs of wealth.

Dutch Under-21 inter­na­tion­al Chong has been on loan this sea­son with Birm­ing­ham City.

He suf­fered a groin injury in Octo­ber and was recov­er­ing at his local club at the time of the raid.

Orga­nized gangs are believed to be behind the home bur­glar­ies of top players.

Most of the vic­tims were tar­get­ed while they were away with their teams.

We report­ed last week on how Man­ches­ter Unit­ed ace Paul Pog­ba’s home was feared to have been hit by the same bur­glars who tar­get­ed his team­mate Vic­tor Lindelof.

Pog­ba’s prop­er­ty was raid­ed while he was play­ing against Atleti­co Madrid at Old Traf­ford in the Cham­pi­ons League on March 15.

The armed gang that ran­sacked the French inter­na­tion­al’s home in Hale Barns, Greater Man­ches­ter, could also be linked to loot­ers who attacked Man­ches­ter City play­er Joao Can­ce­lo out­side his fam­i­ly home in December.

Lin­de­lof, a 27-year-old Swede, lives around the cor­ner from Pogba.

The defend­er’s home was tar­get­ed while he was play­ing for the Red Dev­ils in Brent­ford on Jan­u­ary 19.

The break-in came four days after the home of anoth­er Unit­ed team­mate, Jesse Lin­gard, was raid­ed two miles from Bowdon.

The 29-year-old was robbed of £100,000 worth of clothes and jew­el­ry while play­ing for Unit­ed at Aston Villa.

But Por­tuguese ace Can­ce­lo, 27, was at home when loot­ers hit his pad in near­by Hale in December.

He post­ed pho­tos of his cut and bruised face after brave­ly bat­tling the gang.

The prox­im­i­ty of the raids has led to fears that foot­ballers in the North West — par­tic­u­lar­ly south of Man­ches­ter, near the M56 — could be targeted.

The free­way pro­vides a quick escape route and there are fears of attract­ing gangs from across the region.

Play­ers and clubs — aware of the risks — are also tak­ing steps to com­bat the ruth­less gangs.

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