A former England football starlet is facing jail for raiding bookies at gunpoint during a £14,000 armed robbery spree, a court has heard.

Nathan Ashton, 29, a winger for Fulham, Charlton and Wycombe Wanderers, targeted eight branches of Paddy Power and Coral in and around London last year.

Nathan and his alleged accomplice Ohmar Pike struck in the morning or just before closing when there is normally most cash in the tills, Kingston Crown Court was told.

In one raid, a worker held at gunpoint “fell to his knees and had a panic attack and begged for his life”, the jury heard, and was told: “I’m going to blow your head off if you don’t open the safe.”

Nathan, of Reading — who has 20 England caps at age-group level — has admitted conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to possess a firearm or imitation firearm with intent.

Pike is on trial charged with one count of conspiracy to rob eight betting stops, and one count of conspiracy to possess a firearm or imitation firearm with intent at two of those betting shops

Opening the case against Pike, prosecutor Sam Brown said: “They took part in robberies of bookmakers and they were targeted as was the contents of the tills and the safes therein.

“The people robbed were in fact the cashiers who were either securing the premises as they closed for the evening or on one occasion shortly before opening time.”

Pike, 27, of High Wycombe, denies the charges. The pair are accused of robbing bookies in north and west London, Watford, and High Wycombe.

The court was told that on some raids Pike was getaway driver using a car rented in his own name while Ashton went into the bookies. The jury heard how in May last year, Paddy Power staff were locking up just before 10pm when a masked man approached saying: “I have a gun,” and showing a firearm in a plastic bag.

The robbers took £1,900.

The trial continues.