Barcelona and Holland legend held at gunpoint by man demanding for pro football contract

European football great Mark van Bommel has enjoyed great success since taking over at Belgian club Royal Antwerp in 2022, but the move hasn't been all smiles
Barcelona and Holland legend held at gunpoint by man demanding for pro football contract

Mark van Bommel was held at gunpoint and urged to give a fan a professional contract or risk him and his family being killed.

Less than six months into his stay as Royal Antwerp manager, the Dutchman was approached by his car in October 2022 after the Jamaleh Haban M. placed an Apple AirTag tracker on his £100,000 Porsche Panamera.

 The culprit - who was identified by the Belgian Public Prosecutor's Office - then threatened his life if he refused to make Haban's football dream come true.

Haban used a torch to 'blind' Van Bommel - who won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006 - outside his apartment complex before using a gun in an attempt to extort the 46-year-old.

It's reported the culprit claimed to be 17 years of age despite official documents indicating he's 25. Prosecutors found an audio message on the assailant's phone he allegedly planned to play to Van Bommel, which incriminated the fanatic.

"Listen Mark, your family's life depends on this, let me become a professional player," read the clip, as reported by Dutch daily De Telegraaf. "Don't go to the police, we will kill you and your family. We know where you live."

"The words leave little to the imagination, there is even a threat of a bullet in the head. We cannot laugh about that. The impact of these facts cannot be underestimated," Van Bommel's lawyer, John Maes, told Het Nieuwsblad. "My client is used to some things, but not this. He no longer dares to sleep at home and lives in a hotel."

Van Bommel was one of the most successful players of his era, accumulating league titles at every team he represented throughout his career. Winning a league and European double in his sole season at the Camp Nou, the midfield anchor also won domestic gongs with Bayern Munich, AC Milan and PSV.

Management hasn't been quite as good to the veteran after struggling for success with PSV and Wolfsburg. However, he recently led Royal Antwerp to the Belgian Cup and is still in with a chance of lifting the Belgian Pro League trophy.

The investigation into Haban also reportedly revealed he had sent emails to other Belgian top-flight clubs hoping to be handed a contract. It's understood Van Bommel is seeking £4,300 in damages for the distress he suffered, while prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison sentence for Haban.

Victory over Genk on Sunday would seal Antwerp's first top-flight title since 1957 and earn Van Bommel a spot in the club's history books.

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