Liverpool skipper admits throwing punch

LIVERPOOL - England midfielder Steven Gerrard acknowledged yesterday that he punched a man who refused to let him pick a song to play in a bar and says he was wrong to think he was about to be struck by him.

LIVERPOOL - England midfielder Steven Gerrard acknowledged yesterday that he punched a man who refused to let him pick a song to play in a bar and says he was wrong to think he was about to be struck by him.

The Liverpool captain denies charges of affray after being accused of hitting businessman Marcus McGee at the Lounge Inn bar in the early hours of December 29 as he celebrated his team's 5-1 win over Newcastle.

Gerrard told Liverpool Crown Court he "remembers swinging my right hand two or three times" at McGee in self-defence, but said he didn't know McGee had initially been hit by a friend of his.

"I thought he was going to hit me. He was on his way forward to me and his behaviour had changed from when I was having a discussion with him. I didn't know why," Gerrard said.

"I am certainly mistaken in thinking he was coming towards me to throw punches at me. Now I know he had been struck, reacted and thought the strike was by me."

The 29-year-old Gerrard said the incident took about four or five seconds before he was "pushed and pulled" away from McGee.

"It was very difficult at the time to explain to police why I did throw that first punch," Gerrard said. "I firmly believed Marcus came towards me to hit me."

Former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish provided a character reference for Gerrard that was read out to the jury.

"Steven is a very responsible man and always has been," Dalglish said.

The trial is expected to last several days. - Sapa/AP

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