One Direction star Niall Horan has been forced to undergo painful knee surgery after being attacked in Battersea Park - by a squirrel.

The bloodthirsty rodent apparently pounced on the Irish crooner while he was in the park last week and it is thought Horan tore knee ligaments as he tried to escape its clutches.

The 19-year-old singer is now on crutches as a result of the attack and he spoke of his torment at the weekend.

Speaking on on Capital Radio's Sunday Breakfast Show, Horan said: "A squirrel attacked me. I got attacked by a squirrel in Battersea Park. They're dangerous. It's rare.

"I've torn most of the ligaments in my knee. So no football for me, it's early retirement now. I've got a floating knee-cap."

However millionaire Horan, who has more than 5m Twitter followers, had recovered sufficiently from the operation to appear on Sunday night's X Factor, the show which catapulted the quintet to stardom two years ago.

The boy band's army of female teenage fans will have been shocked to learn that their hero was roughed-up by an animal that weighs less than a kilogram and is just eight inches tall.

The incident is a far cry from the heady rock n roll days of the 1970s when Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne famously bit the head off a bat on stage.

If Horan wants some revenge he might like to pop down to Balham market where trader James Davies has an unusual way of dealing with the pesky rodents - the chef slow cooks them and bakes them in pies, likening them to wild rabbit.

The Old Sergeant pub in Earlsfield, which has just been named the best community pub, has also been serving up the animal as part of its new menu.

Squirrels have been known to attack pets and some children although incidents in the UK are very rare.

In 2004, in the German town of Passau, a squirrel went on an alleged violent rampage when it attacked three people, including a young mum and a builder, before it was eventually beaten to death by a pensioner armed with a crutch.

Packs of black squirrels, found mainly in Russia and Eastern Europe, have been known to attack and kill large dogs.

Nutty about One Direction? Some alternative song titles

  • Take Me Home (from Hospital)
  • (Can't) Stand Up
  • Up All Night (in Pain)
  • Gotta Knee You
  • Wishing on A Squirrel
  • Rats What Makes You Beautiful