EPL champ injured in gang attack after he chatted up another player's girlfriend
Ex-Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater suffered 'significant' injuries in gang attack after he chatted up another player's girlfriend
MANCHESTER: Danny Drinkwater has plunged from the heights of winning the English Premier League (EPL) to the depths of being beaten up for chatting up the girlfriend of another player.
It could not have come at a worse time for the Chelsea midfielder who is trying to revive his fading career after moving to Burnley on loan - the attack left him with torn ankle ligaments, which could sideline him for up to a month.
The assault by up to six men outside a nightclub in Manchester on Sept 1 left Drinkwater with various injuries, including a black eye, a severely swollen forehead, bruised shoulders and arms, and a cut cheek, The Sun news site reported yesterday.
The gang was reported to have chanted "break his legs", as they jumped on his ankle.
Manchester-born Drinkwater, 29, was celebrating his friend's birthday at the Chinawhite club when he repeatedly flirted with the girlfriend of Kgosi Ntlhe, a defender with Scunthorpe United, a team in League Two, the fourth-tier of English football.
Quoting unnamed sources, The Sun reported that a drunk Drinkwater was heard telling Ntlhe, who had asked him to leave his girlfriend alone: "I don't care, mate, she's coming home with me."
They got into a scuffle and were thrown out by club security.
Up to six men then attacked Drinkwater. There is no suggestion that Ntlhe, a 25-year-old South African, was involved.
The gang allegedly knocked Drinkwater down, hit him in the face and body with a blunt object, and rained blows on him.
A source told The Sun: "At one point, he was curled up in a ball on the ground, as they repeatedly jumped up and down on his ankle, shouting, 'break his legs'.
"They knew he was a Premier League star and it was his livelihood. There was blood everywhere, and it was all incredibly nasty."
The police were not called to the incident and Drinkwater did not report it, The Sun said.
One source said: "He knows he has let himself down big-time. He was extremely drunk and, to be honest, doesn't remember much of the incident.
"Danny is absolutely mortified now and realises he can no longer put himself in a position where these incidents happen, regardless of who is at fault.
"He had been focused on performing for Burnley and understands people will now question this. He is devastated. His injuries were significant. He looks a total mess."
Drinkwater allegedly flew to Spain as he was worried about how Burnley manager Sean Dyche would react to his injuries.
He is due to return to the United Kingdom this week.
Drinkwater has yet to play for Burnley in the EPL but played in the 3-1 League Cup defeat by Sunderland on Aug 28.
A spokesman for the player told The Sun: "Danny accepts he put himself in a position where he can be criticised. He will take on the chin the criticism that comes his way...
"He will address the concerns of those at the club privately, and honestly."
Online news outlet LancsLive said Burnley declined to comment on reports of the assault. Last week, Burnley and Chelsea said he had been sidelined by a mystery ankle injury.
This is not Drinkwater's first brush with trouble while intoxicated. In May, he was handed a 20-month driving ban and ordered to complete 70 hours of community service after crashing his Range Rover through a wall.
The accident left the former Manchester United trainee and two female passengers hurt.
He was caught with 87 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - twice the legal limit in the UK.
Drinkwater, who has three caps for England, was part of the fairy-tale Leicester City side that won the EPL in 2016.
He has struggled for game time since moving to Chelsea for £35 million (S$59 million) in 2017.
After making 22 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions in his first season, he was frozen out by former manager Maurizio Sarri last season.
After his loan move to Burnley in August, Drinkwater said on Instagram: "Time to get my career back on track and get that love back for the game."