PREMIER LEAGUE footballer Andy Carroll has been accused of eye-gouging a photographer during a night out in Dublin.
The most expensive British footballer ever – thanks to his £35m move to Liverpool from Newcastle – is now being investigated by gardai following an alleged assault on freelance photographer Paddy Cummins.
Mr Cummins said Carroll (23) gouged his eye with his right hand as he lay on the street.
Carroll – currently on loan at West Ham – was in Dublin with team-mates on Sunday night.
He was pictured at various locations wearing a white suit and white loafers.
The incident occurred at 2.30am on Grafton Street.
Mr Cummins said he received treatment at Dublin’s Eye & Ear hospital and is now on a course of antibiotics.
He has a scratch on his eyeball and a burst blood vessel.
He was working on Grafton Street in the early hours of Monday morning when he saw Carroll enter a fast food outlet.
“A West Ham security guard came over to me and asked me not to take photographs.
“I told him I was just doing my job, but when I moved, he blocked my view,” Mr Cummins said.
The security guard asked him to wait until the footballer was in a rickshaw, parked outside Burger King on Grafton Street, before taking any images.
Mr Cummins changed his lens when Carroll got into the rickshaw.
“Once I started taking shots, he got out of rickshaw and just went at me.
“I remember him saying, ‘Get the camera’. I went backwards and I was over on the far side of the street. There was at least one security guard between me and him at that point.
“Next thing I was on my back on the ground next to Burger King and he was still grabbing for my camera.
“I could feel his hand coming across my face, and his fingers digging into my eye. I started screaming, ‘My eyes, my eyes’.”
At this stage the footballer left the scene and a West Ham security guard remained.
“I could hear security men saying ‘Get him out, get him out’, and one of security guys stood over me.
“Somebody asked him what happened, and he said I dived to the ground. But I told him there was CCTV all over the place and it will show that I didn’t dive.”
A West Ham spokesman denied that Carroll had been involved in a physical confrontation with a photographer.
“ Andy Carroll was in Dublin as part of a social trip,” the club said.
“Andy agreed to have a number of pictures taken. Despite this, the photographer then carried on taking photos and was politely asked to stop by the private security team.
“When he then continued taking more photos he was restrained by the security team for Andy's safety.”
Gardai have confirmed that the footballer is under investigation following the alleged incident.