Ex-Owls midfield man arrested as police probe gang over car thefts

Sheffield Wednesday......Ronnie Wallwork

Sheffield Wednesday......Ronnie Wallwork

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A FORMER Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley player has been arrested as part of a police probe into a gang specialising in stealing cars to be used in robberies.

Ronnie Wallwork, aged 33, who moved to Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer in January 2008 but was released after making a handful of appearances, was quizzed by detectives investigating a spate of raids across the north west.

The defender was questioned in connection with the handling of stolen vehicles after he was arrested as he arrived at Manchester Airport on a flight after a holiday.

Wallwork, from Failsworth, Oldham, who was bailed pending further enquiries, was due to meet police again today.

Six others were arrested on suspicion of a range of offences including attempted murder and conspiracy to murder.

The footballer, who represented England at youth level, joined Manchester United as a trainee in 1993 and rose through the ranks – helping the Reds win the FA Youth Cup in 1995.

He was named the club’s young player of the year in 1996 and made his first-team debut the following year.

But the midfielder struggled to hold down a place and was loaned out to a succession of clubs.

He also played for Belgian side Royal Antwerp.

In 2002, Mr Wallwork signed for West Bromwich Albion, where he was loaned out to Bradford City, Barnsley and Huddersfield Town.

During his time with Barnsley, in November 2006, he was repeatedly stabbed with a fish knife during an attack in the VIP area of a Manchester bar.

His attacker had flown into a jealous rage after seeing Wallwork with an ex-girlfriend.

The former Premier League player needed life-saving surgery following the assault and missed the remainder of the season.