Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been cleared of affray after punching a man in a Merseyside bar.
The 29-year-old England midfielder was found not guilty by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court over his role in the incident last December.
“I’m really looking forward to the season and concentrating on the football now,” he told reporters outside the court.
During his trial, Gerrard admitted striking Marcus McGee, 34 but said he had been acting out of self-defence.
The court was told that one of Gerrard’s friends had elbowed McGee and the player then threw punches “with the style and speed” of a professional boxer.
Gerrard said he had been given permission by the bar manager to help play music but McGee had grabbed a music card from him. A fight then erupted after Gerrard approached McGee.
“It was very difficult at the time to explain to police why I did throw that first punch. We were arguing and I told the police I felt that Marcus came towards me and that’s why I raised my arms,” he told the court.
“I firmly believed Marcus came towards me to hit me.”
The Liverpool player’s six co-defendants pleaded guilty to being involved in the brawl.