English professional soccer player Jack Grealish, was bum-rushed Sunday by a Birmingham City fan who took the the field in the early part of the first half and sucker punched him in the head.
Paul Mitchell, of Rubery, Worcestershire, ran on to the pitch and hit Grealish from behind about 10 minutes into Sunday’s game. The Aston Villa club star midfielder fell to the ground as security and players from both clubs rushed the assailant.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 10, 2019
Grealish remained in the game, and in 66th minute, received a pass just outside his opponent’s penalty box and made a made a quick stutter-step move before firing off a shot that made its way through all of Birmingham’s defense and goalkeeper. The goal would ultimately be the decider in Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory.
— My Old Man Said (@oldmansaid) March 10, 2019
Shortly after the match Birmingham City released a statement apologizing to Grealish and Aston Villa, and promised that the supporter who invaded the pitch will be banned from their stadium for life. Aston Villa also released a statement that was understandably more upset with the situation:
Aston Villa Football Club is appalled by the disgraceful attack on Jack Grealish during today’s game.
A red line has been crossed by this cowardly on-field assault on a player, which is unprecedented in English football.We trust the perpetrator will feel the full force of the law and the authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding today’s deplorable incident.Local rivalries are part of the fabric of the game however, as we are sure our friends at Birmingham City would agree, to have a player’s personal safety placed under such jeopardy is a serious cause for concern for the entire football community.
Despite being punched in the head Grealish, in a postmatch interview with Sky Sports described what had happened to him today as “The best of my life. To come here, you know, for the first time, obviously, captain Aston Villa and score the winner, it’s what dreams are made of.”
As for Mitchell, he was sentenced to 14 weeks in jail.