A Birmingham City fan has pleaded guilty to assault after attacking Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish during the derby between the two sides on Sunday.
Birmingham City fan Paul Mitchell has pleaded guilty to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish during yesterday's derby
— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) March 11, 2019
Paul Mitchell, 27, swung a punch at Grealish when his back was turned after running onto the pitch at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match.
Mitchell, from Rubery, Worcestershire, admitted to invading the pitch as well as assaulting Grealish.
He will be sentenced Monday afternoon.
A statement from Grealish was read in court which described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.
“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” the player said. “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”
The defense said Mitchell’s behavior was out of character and said he apologized to Grealish.
“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer Vaughn Whistance said.
“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a two-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”
The defense also said Mitchell’s family had been forced to move out of their home overnight through fears of “serious harm or even death”.
After the game, Grealish said there was no place for the behaviour of his attacker in football.
“I was unaware [of the fan] at the time. We had a throw in or a corner and I was walking into position and I just felt a whack around the side of the face,” the Aston Villa captain said.
“Obviously there is rivalry in football, but I don’t think there is any place for that.
“I just tried to get on with my job and I think I did — I scored the winner. It was unbelievable, in front of our fans and after what happened in the first half. It was something I have dreamed of since I was a little kid.
Players need more security, so they can do their jobs on the field.
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