Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, accused of attacking a businessman in a bar room brawl, told a court on Thursday he had struck the man but was acting in self-defence and had not lost self-control. The 29-year-old England midfielder was giving evidence at Liverpool Crown Court where he is on trial accused of affray. He denies the charge. Businessman Marcus McGee, 34, has told the court he faced a "barrage" of blows from the player when he refused to hand over control of a CD player. McGee, who was in charge of music for the night at the Lounge Bar in Southport near Liverpool, lost a front tooth crown in the attack in the early hours of Dec. 29 last year as Gerrard celebrated Liverpool's 5-1 win over Newcastle United. The jury has also heard that Gerrard had estimated he was seven out of 10 on a drunkenness scale, but speaking in the dock on Thursday, Gerrard said he had not lost control, the Press Association reported. "I certainly knew I had had a drink. I was certainly in control of how I felt in my surroundings," Gerrard said. He added that as a well-known player he was used to people bothering him when out shopping or in bars or restaurants, and had ways of smoothing over trouble. BEST WAY "Sometimes I get supporters coming up to me, be they Liverpool fans or Everton or Manchester United fans, and sometimes the comments can be derogatory or insulting. So I try to deal with it in the best way I can," he said. On the night of the brawl, Gerrard said he had been given permission from the bar manager to help choose the music but McGee "snatched" the music card from him and swore at him. He returned to his friends but McGee had sat on a bar stool staring at him, he told the court. Ignoring his friends' advice, he went to speak to the businessman again. "I couldn't understand why the guy had such a problem with me, why he was so aggressive," he said. "I wanted to see why he had such a problem with it, why a total stranger had such a problem with me putting my favourite songs on." Gerrard said the two men had then had a heated discussion and there was a lot of foul language. "Why did you deliver a blow to Marcus McGee?" his lawyer John Kelsey-Fry asked him. Gerrard replied: "To defend myself." "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. "I firmly believed Marcus came towards me to hit me." The trial continues.
23 July 2009
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