Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was cleared on Friday of attacking a businessman in a fight over music being played in a bar. The 29-year-old England midfielder was found not guilty of affray by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court over his role in the incident last December, the Press Association reported. "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, who lost a front tooth crown in the bar brawl, but said he had been acting out of self-defence. Prosecutors said McGee had been in charge of music for the night at the Lounge Bar in Southport, near Liverpool, and had refused to let Gerrard take control of a CD player. Gerrard was celebrating with friends after he scored twice in a 5-1 Premier League win at Newcastle United. The court was told that one of Gerrard's friends had elbowed McGee and the player then landed punches "with the style and speed" of a professional boxer. Gerrard told the jury he estimated he had been seven out of 10 on a drunkenness scale but had not lost control. He said he had been given permission by the bar manager to help choose music but McGee had snatched a music card from him. A fight then erupted after Gerrard approached McGee to find out why he had been so aggressive. "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. Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said he was "really pleased" at the news of Gerrard's acquittal. "We have been supporting him all the time and were just waiting for the decision," he said in a statement. "Now he can concentrate just on football and hopefully play at the same level as last year."
24 July 2009
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