Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling Reuters

Manchester United and England defender Chris Smalling has issued an apology for his "insensitive" decision to sport a 'suicide bombing' vest for a fancy dress party.

The 24-year-old apparently wanted to come up with a pun on the popular 'Jagerbomb' drink, by strapping bottles of Jagermeister and Red Bull to his body - and literally being a "Jagerbomber".

A photograph of Smalling wearing, what appeared to be, an army-style vest with alcohol bottles and a mock circuit board, combined with an Arab Keffiyeh headgear, circulated on the internet. It was a bad choice for a fancy dress and quickly went viral, inviting staunch criticism over its offensive nature.

The story was carried by The Sun on Thursday with the photograph under the headline "Appalling Smalling".

"Shame of Manchester Utd 'bomb' ace," it said, "England star Chris Smalling was last night branded a "disgrace" for dressing as a SUICIDE BOMBER".

His management firm was quick to issue an apology.

"Chris and his girlfriend hosted a fancy dress party to celebrate Christmas and their belated birthdays with close friends in the assumed privacy of his own home," Wasserman Media Group told the Associated Press.

"He dressed in a costume consisting of empty bottles of Jagermeister and cans of Red Bull strapped to his chest in an attempted comedy play on the popular 'Jagerbomb' drink.

"Although he fully accepts in hindsight it was an ill-thought out and insensitive decision, absolutely no harm was intended whatsoever and he apologizes for any offence caused."

However, the photograph continues to prompt several angry reactions. Graham Foulkes, whose son David died in the London 7/7 suicide bombings, told The Sun that the costume was "one of the most offensive things I have seen".