London, United Kingdom, Jul 26 – Arsenal footballers Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil faced down masked and armed attackers who targeted their car and chased them through London.
Kolasinac insisted Friday that the English Premier League stars were both fine as police tried to track down the assailants.
In footage circulating on social media, the Bosnia defender is seen jumping out of the vehicle and confronting two aggressors who turned up on a motorbike.
Former Germany midfielder Ozil, who was driving, was inside the car along with his newlywed wife Amine Gulse, a former Miss Turkey.
The incident happened in broad daylight in a plush part of north London on Thursday.
Kolasinac confronted a first aggressor, who appeared to be brandishing a metal weapon, on the passenger side of the vehicle, then approached another similarly-armed attacker in a motorbike helmet who came around the back, the footage showed.
Their vehicle was then chased for about a mile through the city as they fled to a Turkish restaurant where they are regulars.
– Bricks thrown –
Yasmin Tahsiner, who co-owns the restaurant, said the two attackers threw bricks at the car and tried to break the windscreen.
“They came in and stopped in front of the restaurant and then when we saw them, we didn’t understand at first what’s going on, and we called the police,” Tahsiner told AFP.
“The police came 10 to 15 minutes later.”
She said the attackers were swinging a metal weapon rather than a knife.
“They were wearing black, in hot days, all being covered, escape masks,” she said.
Thursday was the hottest July day on record in Britain, with temperatures hitting 38.1 degrees Celsius (100.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
“When we see them, they’re fine, we be ‘oh, thank God’, and then obviously we panicked. Why it happened, who is that? This is… something else, it can be worse, and we were worried.”
Kolasinac tweeted a picture of the pair, who are childhood friends, wearing club t-shirts, smiling as they walked through a corridor.
“Think we’re fine,” he said, accompanied by a fist and a laughing face.
Tahsiner said Gulse was left shaken.
She and Ozil married in Istanbul in June with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acting as best man.
Financial worker Azuka Alintah, 36, who saw the Arsenal stars outside the Turkish restaurant, told the MailOnline: “Ozil looked absolutely terrified.
“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.
An Arsenal spokesman said: “We have been in contact with both players and they are fine.”
– Police probe –
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.”
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 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.
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.