Aston Villa player punched by fan, scores winning goal
A pitch invader has sensationally punched a footballer in the back of the head during derby in Birmingham during the EFL Championship in England's second division before a steward also reportedly attacked the player.
The two main teams in the city of Birmingham - Birmingham City and Aston Villa - were just under nine minutes into the match with the score at 0-0.
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish had just sent a cross in which was kicked away when the invader - later named as Paul Mitchell - rushed onto the field, making a beeline for the 23-year-old.
The shocked player was knocked to the ground in stunning scenes as security and players rushed to Grealish's aid.
"There's an idiot who has run onto the pitch and gone straight for Jack Grealish," the commentator said.
"And that moron will hopefully not be seeing any more of the rest of the day because he'll be in a police cell. Absolute stupidity.
"There will be action taken by the football authorities in the aftermath of that. Utterly stupid."
Mitchell was taken away while blowing kisses to the crowd before authorities confirmed he had been arrested. Even Mitchell's own friends and family reportedly described him as an "embarrassment" as the father-of-one faces a life ban from football.
Speaking of the attack after the match, Grealish said: "There's rivalry in football but I don't think there is any place for that really."
In a statement the English Football League condemned Mitchell's actions.
"The EFL condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached on to the pitch at St Andrews on Sunday afternoon.
"It's a situation no player should ever be faced with.
"In all circumstances the playing surface is for players, not supporters and those playing in the game must be able to do so safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behaviour.
"Whilst this incident falls within the remit of the Football Association, we will work with all the relevant parties to address the issue of player and match officials safety on the pitch and ensure the appropriate action is taken."
Grealish took his revenge the best way possible by scoring a 67th minute winner to give Villa a 1-0 victory.
He ran to the crowd to celebrate his pivotal strike but according to The Sun, a steward was hauled out of the ground by police after appearing to push and knee the Villa star amid the chaos.
Disgusting cowardly attack on Jack Grealish, this man should not set foot in a football ground for the rest of his life, and expect a prison sentence plus anyone associated with him on CCTV should be banned also, this attack was obviously pre planned and condoned by associates.— Frank Sinclair (@FrankMSinclair) 10 March 2019
Damning footage appeared to show one steward shove Grealish into a cameraman before seemingly kneeing him in the back.
As Grealish and his teammates headed back onto the pitch, police were seen confronting the steward and dragging him down the tunnel.
The local derby had already seen some fan violence with one man suffering a head wound in the crowd.
West Ham midfielder Declan Rice and former England defender Gary Neville led the outrage at the attack.
ARREST: Following the incident on the pitch involving an attack on an Aston Villa player; a man has been arrested and en route to a custody block. Further details to follow. pic.twitter.com/fed9KrHBgl— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) 10 March 2019
In commentary the incident was also compared to scary moments in the past where sportspeople have been attacked.
"It could have been so much worse. You think of Monica Seles and how she was attacked courtside. What an idiot. To think he paid good money for a ticket as well. One can only hope he'll be eating food out of a metal tin while incarcerated for a while."
Tennis player Monica Seles was stabbed in the back in an incident in 1993 while playing the game.