Drink-driving Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino fined and banned from wheel
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has been fined £20,000 and banned from driving for a year after admitting drink-driving at Liverpool Magistrates' Court.
The Brazil international was stopped by police while he was driving his Range Rover on Strand Street in Liverpool city centre at 3am on Christmas Eve.
Michael Hogan, defending the 25-year-old, said the incident happened the day after the footballer's family home was targeted by burglars who were "prepared to use extreme force".
In a statement issued after the hearing, Firmino said: "I apologise, without reservation, to the club, the manager, my team-mates and the supporters for putting myself in this situation. What I have done is wrong and sets a bad example.
"I promise to everyone in the LFC family that I will learn from this mistake, learn from this experience, and not repeat it in the future."
The club said the player had been disciplined but declined to say what action had been taken.
In a statement, they said: "The player has been disciplined by the club for his actions and reminded of his responsibilities for the present and future.
"The nature of this action will remain private, however it does not impact on his availability for selection for matches.
"The club considers this to be an isolated incident and a rare lapse in judgement and professionalism. We will, however, work with the player to further educate him on the dangers associated with drink-driving specifically."
Mr Hogan told the court: "The day before he was stopped by police, he and his family were targeted by a group of criminals who were intent on breaking into his house and robbing them of their precious belongings.
"In order that the police investigation into this serious crime is not compromised in any way, I don't propose to say much about it, but what I do say goes some way to explaining my client's state of mind the following day."
The court heard Firmino and his family, as well as friends from Brazil who were staying with them, had moved out of the house following the burglary, on advice from the police, and were staying in a hotel next to Merseyside Police headquarters.
Mr Hogan said: "My client has very young children. He has a partner. Neither of them speak more than a few words of English.
"Had they been in the house when it was burgled who can say what might have happened at the hands of the robbers.
"That it should happen in his own home so close to Christmas caused him considerable anxiety and distress."
Firmino, who had a Portuguese interpreter for the hearing, had been out to a restaurant on Hanover Street in Liverpool before he was stopped by police.
Mr Hogan said: "He was preoccupied and he accepts he should have kept a closer eye on what he had to drink."
The court heard the player, who was accompanied to court by his wife Larissa Pereira, left the restaurant and took a "wrong turn", driving on the wrong side of the road momentarily, before being stopped by police.
A breathalyser test showed he had a reading of 46 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - above the legal limit of 35.
District Judge Miriam Shelvey said the fine was based on his weekly wage with discounts for his guilty plea and mitigation, including the "particularly difficult" circumstances he and his family were in at the time.
The player reportedly earns £100,000 a week.
Firmino was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
He was told his driving ban could be reduced to nine months if he took a course.