Andrea Dossena, who cost Liverpool £7 million from Udinese in 2008, was held by police after his three-year-old son tried to take a book from Harrods, his agent has claimed.
The 33-year-old defender, who now plays for League One strugglers Leyton Orient, was arrested at the Knightsbridge department store on Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of shoplifting.
However his agent, Gary Sloane, said the footballer and his wife, 31, were oblivious to the situation and were not aware that their son had taken the book.
“It was a family shopping trip to Harrods and their little boy was carrying his own bag,” Sloane said in a statement. “He put a kids' book in there and it set the security alarms off as they left the shop.
“Andrea and his wife didn't have any ID with them so they had to go to the police station just to verify who they were.”
Bailed until late April
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers were called to the store, on Brompton Road, yesterday. Both Dossena and his wife have been bailed until late April.
Dossena made 18 appearances for Liverpool during an 18-month spell, scoring his first goal for the Reds against Read Madrid in a Champions League last 16 tie.
Just four days later, Dossena scored his first Premier League goal in a 4-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Deemed surplus to requirements the Italian was sold to Napoli in January 2010 before reuniting with former manager Rafael Benitez, who allowed Dossena to look for another club.
Sunderland pounced to bring the defender back to the Premier League but after failing to make any impression with the Black Cats, Dossena was released.
The left-back has scored once in 13 appearances for Leyton Orient this season, who continue to struggle in their battle against relegation from League One.