English football star Steven Gerrard has admitted punching a man in a bar, but the Liverpool captain insisted in his court testimony that it was in self-defense.
The 29-year-old is facing a charge of affray after an incident in the early hours of December 29, when he attacked businessman Marcus McGee following a dispute about the music that was being played. If found guilty, Gerrard faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine of $7,200. Gerrard, who denies the charge, told a judge on Thursday that he was sorry about his actions in Southport’s Lounge Inn, but at the time he thought McGee was going to attack him. They had been involved in an argument after Gerrard tried to change the music on the bar’s sound system, but McGee would not let him, the UK Press Association reported. “I thought he was going to hit me,” Gerrard said. “He was on his way forward to me and his behavior had changed from when I was having a discussion with him. I didn’t know why.” Gerrard said he was unaware that his friend John Doran had already punched McGee when he himself started to hit the 34-year-old. “I am certainly mistaken in thinking he was coming towards me to throw punches at me,” the midfielder said.
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“Now I know, obviously, he had been struck, reacted and thought the strike was by me and he came into me and that’s when I reacted. I am sorry about the whole incident. “I grabbed the back of his jumper as he moved forward to me. When I had hold of Marcus, I remember swinging my right hand two or three times. “I was trying to stop still and I felt I had arms all over me. I could see a melee around Marcus McGee. When I was getting pulled away I realized people were patting me, some of whom were my friends. “I wanted to help control the situation. I was worried the fight I had with Marcus was going to get worse because people were going past me in that direction.” Gerrard said that his friends had earlier told him to “forget” the argument, but he felt he needed to confront McGee. “I couldn’t understand why the guy had such a problem with me, why he was so aggressive,” he said. “I was also concerned that if I did leave it I would not have been able to enjoy my night, he may have come over to me. “I wanted to see why he had such a problem with it, why a total stranger had such a problem with me putting my favorite songs on. I asked why I couldn’t have an input in the music and tried to explain that I had permission from the manageress.” “I asked Marcus what was the problem with the music machine and why he treated me like that. Very quickly he came off the bar stool and was in my face right by me.” Gerrard had been celebrating after scoring two goals as Liverpool thrashed Newcastle 5-1 to remain top of the Premier League, and admitted that he had been drinking alcohol. “I certainly knew I had had a drink. I was certainly in control of how I felt in my surroundings,” he said. The father of two said he had not been in trouble with the police since the age of 19, when he was banned from driving for nine months for drink-driving.