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Former Rovers star in raid drama
THE FAMILY of an ex-Blackburn Rovers star were held hostage at gunpoint after armed robbers broke into his home.
Giorgos Donis, who played for Rovers in the 1990s, told of the nightmare that unfolded at his villa in an exclusive Athens suburb.
Gunmen burst into the house and held his wife, father-in-law and one of his children as they grabbed cash and jewellery.
The drama ended in two separate gunfights between police and the gang, after Donis’s father-in-law had been used as a human shield.
According to Greek news agencies, the two robbers and a police sergeant were wounded in the shootout. Both raiders were arrested.
Now the 42-year-old Greek international, who currently coaches a league team, said he is going to move out of his up-market home in the Kifissia area of the capital.
The attempted robbery took place on Thursday afternoon.
Mr Donis recounted the dramatic events in an interview with Greek television.
Local news agencies said that the alarm was raised by Mr Donis' s 15-year-old son who had also been in the house and climbed out of a window to escape.
The teenager rushed next door to a house occupied by former Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou, and asked the guards stationed there for help. The guards alerted police and a patrol car was immediately sent out, arriving before the robbers had made their getaway.
The two robbers managed to get out of the street by using Mr Donis’s father-in-law as a human shield.
They then let him go and opened fire on the police patrol, injuring a police sergeant in the leg. The police returned fire and injured one of the robbers in the hand, as the two robbers attempted to flee on foot.
There was a chase, with the assistance of more police who arrived on the scene Armed officers caught up with the two robbers several streets away and there was a second exchange of fire.
The man injured in the earlier shootout was then arrested, while the second managed to escape again but not before he was also injured by police fire.
He was eventually caught and arrested at 6pm when he was tracked him down to a house where he was hiding.
In a major operation set up with help from special police counter-terrorism forces the house was surrounded and some officers tried to force their way in through the front.
The robber tried to flee by jumping over the wall in the back garden and was caught by officers.
The police sergeant who was shot was rushed to a hospital.
The second of the two suspects was taken to hospital and his accomplice, a 27-year-old Albanian national, was last night being questioned at police headquarters.
Mr Donis, who is now the coach at PAOK Thessaloniki, was not at home when the thieves burst in.
He joined Rovers in 1996 and was the first Greek to play in the English Premier League.
He told a Greek TV interviewer: “One thing’s for sure, we are immediately moving out of this house.
“The robbers were relentless and in my opinion they were the same people as in previous times.
“They had guns, but fortunately most of my family kept their calm, otherwise things could have been much worse.
“Last time they stole everything from me, medals, awards, cash, even my car.
“Enough is enough."
Police said the jewellery snatched by the robbers during the attack was later recovered near a church close to where the second man was arrested.
Mr Donis’s father-in-law and children were shaken but uninjured in the ordeal.
The Kifissia area of the Greek capital is the most expensive of the northern suburbs and is traditionally home to leading Greek political party figures.
Cases of armed robbery are reported to have risen sharply in Greece since the country's major financial crisis broke out in late 2009.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Mr Donis made 22 appearances as a midfielder for Blackburn Rovers during the 1996-97 season, scoring two goals.
He transferred to AEK Athens before returning to the UK for stints at Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town.
He retired from his playing career in 2001 after another spell at AEK Athens.
Mr Donis took over at financially struggling PAOK Thessaloniki at the end of the last season, after coaching top-flight club Atromitos and taking them to the Greek cup final for two successive years.