Former Brazilian footballer Robson de Souza – also known as Robinho – was arrested by Federal Police on Thursday in Santos, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, his lawyer told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil, as police cars were seen leaving his residence in Santos.

The 40-year-old former AC Milan and Brazil striker faces nine years in prison after being convicted in Italy for gang raping a woman with five other men in 2013 after plying her with alcohol in a Milan nightclub.

Robinho’s arrest comes as Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) denied his appeal on Thursday to remain out of custody while all judicial appeals against his conviction are exhausted and ordered for the “immediate” start of his prison sentence, according to a statement from the STF.

The footballer’s defense team had appealed to Brazilian authorities to allow Robinho to serve his jail time in Italy, rather than Brazil and to remain free while all appeal proceedings are ongoing, according to the STF decision.

Robinho has always denied the charges.

Following Thursday’s arrest Robinho is expected to face a custody hearing on Friday before being sent to a detention facility to being his prison sentence according to CNN Brasil.

Robinho started his career at Brazilian club Santos before moving to Spanish giant Real Madrid in 2005 where he won two La Liga titles.

He quickly gained a reputation as one of the best young players in the world and completed a high-profile move to Manchester City in 2008, before his form dipped and he spent the rest of his career at various clubs around the world.

The forward also played 100 times for Brazil, inspiring his country to victory at Copa América in 2007.