England midfielder and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was cleared of intentionally attacking a man in a bar in a dispute over music.
|Gerrard was cleared of all charges [GALLO/GETTY]
The jury at Liverpool Crown Court cleared Gerrard of affray, accepting the footballer's explanation that he acted in self defence in punching businessman Marcus McGee at the Lounge Inn bar on December 29.
"Can I just say how pleased I am with today's verdict,'' Gerrard said outside the court.
"I'm glad to put this case behind me and I am really looking forward to the season ahead and concentrating on my football now.
"I would just like to say a big thank you to my legal team and to my friends and family and everyone at Liverpool Football Club for supporting me.''
'Explosion of violence'
The 29-year-old Gerrard was the only one of seven defendants to be cleared over the incident, which was described an "explosion of violence'' by the judge.
Gerrard showed no emotion when the jury foreman delivered the not guilty verdict after 70 minutes of deliberation.
"The verdict is a credible verdict on the full facts of this case,'' judge Henry Globe told Gerrard.
"You walk away from this court with your reputation intact.''
Gerrard was celebrating in the Southport bar near Liverpool after scoring twice in his team's 5-1 win at Newcastle.
He was with a party of friends, including former Liverpool manager and player Kenny Dalglish.
Video footage from the bar showed Gerrard and his friends drinking beer, downing spirits and dancing while chanting football songs. But trouble flared at around 2 am when Gerrard wanted to change the music on the CD player.
The 34-year-old McGee said Gerrard had tried to grab a music card from him after being refused control of the device.
Gerrard admitted throwing three punches but said only one connected. He said he only swung at McGee because he thought he was about to be attacked himself.
"I am sorry about the whole incident,'' Gerrard had told the court.
Five other men have already pleaded guilty in the incident and another admitted a lesser charge of threatening behaviour.