EX-Man Utd star Ronnie Wallwork has escaped jail after he fractured a man's eye socket in a pub brawl over a pair of new trainers.
The former footballer, 43, punched Alan Mulholland in the face after accusing him of mocking his shoes during a night out just three days before Christmas, a court has heard.
In the moments before the “schoolyard-style'' assault, Wallwork had taken off one of his trainers and held it in the air to show to his friends before attacking the victim.
Mr Mulholland required three stitches for a wound to his face and suffered facial swelling and a bloodshot eye, the court was told.
He was also headbutted by one of Wallwork's friends during the 25 second fight at the Jam Works bar in Droylsden, Greater Manchester.
At Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court, Wallwork, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to 18 months jail suspended for two years and was ordered to complete a rehabilitation programme.
The ex-midfielder, from Failsworth, near Oldham, was also ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work and pay Mr Mulholland £500 in compensation.
David Garner, also 43, of Newton Heath, Manchester who also admitting GBH was also given an 18 month suspended jail term and was ordered to complete a nine months alcohol treatment programme and pay £1,000 compensation.
Sentencing Judge Tina Landale said: “An argument started with your victim which led to you both losing your tempers in a brutal attack on your victim.
“It started when the victim was head butted by Mr Garner and was followed by punches from Mr Wallwork, the force of which knocked him back and caused him to fall. The incident was somewhat sustained lasting 25 seconds.
‘’It has had a long lasting effect on your victim leaving him with a fractured eye socket and bruising.
“The head butt was used as a weapon and the assault was aggravated by the fact it was in a pub and was committed under the influence of alcohol.”
The judge said that both defendants were “remorseful and are sorry” adding: “This was out of character for both of you and you are both hardworking men.’’
The incident occurred on December 22, 2019 after Mr Mulholland encountered Wallwork and Garner whilst out socialising with his brother in law.
Wallwork was arrested on May 21 last year but told police he had felt “threatened” by Mr Mulholland who was “mocking him about his clothes.”
He accepted he had punched the victim but only after seeing one of Mr Mulholland’s friends punch Garner.
In a statement Mr Mulholland said: “I had to take 18 days off work and lost £4,000. I constantly think about the incident which has left me depressed.
“I have lived in Droyslden all my life and nothing like this has ever happened to me. I never thought I would be assaulted just going for drinks at a bar. I am always looking over my shoulder and am worried about this happening again.”
In mitigation for Wallwork who has a previous caution for battery, defence lawyer Alex Langhorn said: “He was a young man of much promise who passed his GCSEs and started a football career that was his life.
“He has the best opportunities playing for Manchester Utd and other teams. However his football career did not bring him all he hoped. Unlike some footballers in the news he never chased a celebrity lifestyle.”
Mr Langhorn explained that Wallwork was stabbed outside a nigthclub in an attack which curtailed his footballing career.
He continued: “Before getting employment nine months ago he seemed to have no real future and nothing to look forward to beyond his relationship with his partner.
“He thought that had changed and that he was moving forward when he started a job delivering items as a key worker during the pandemic. He was building something for himself and all that has gone.
“He realises he made a stupid mistake and should have walked away from the incident. He bitterly regrets his actions.”
Wallwork who also won four caps for England under-20s in 1990s joined Manchester United's academy in 1993 as a 16-year-old and was crowned the club's Young Player of the Year in 1996.
He made his debut for Manchester United in 1997 playing alongside Ryan Giggs and David Beckham and earned a Premier League title winners’ medal for the 2000-01 season having made 19 appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.
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