A football fan who punched his own team’s star player to the ground after an FA cup tie was ”defending the honour” of his pregnant girlfriend, it emerged.
Rob Fitzgerald, 24, attacked defender Scott Laird, 22, and left him sprawled on the floor after his team Stevenage Borough FC beat Newcastle United 3-1.
He handed himself in at Stevenage Police Station at 2pm on Monday and was remanded in custody overnight for questioning.
Yesterday his pregnant girlfriend Jade Coles, 24, revealed that he attacked Laird because she had previously been in a relationship with the player.
Jade, from Letchworth, Herts., believes that ”tipsy” Fitzgerald thought he was ”defending her honour”.
She said: ”I haven’t been in a relationship with Scott now for two or three years but Rob knows about it.
”Scott was a player and I don’t mean on the pitch. He was a bit of a ladies’ man.
”Rob was at the game celebrating the victory on the pitch. He saw Scott celebrating and just lost his temper. He’d been drinking and that’s why it happened.
”He was being protective. It was a moment of madness.”
Police launched a search for Fitzgerald after the incident, which took place just after 7.30pm on Saturday, was caught on camera.
Jade said Fitzgerald had been drinking when he ran on to the pitch from the stands with celebrating fans after the unexpected win.
Laird said at the time: ”I’m OK. It was a fantastic day for everyone at Stevenage and I don’t want to let the incident take the gloss away.”
Team boss Graham Westley, added: ”He said to me, ‘It’s lucky I’ve got a big head to take it.’ It was a sad way for things to end.”
A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: ”A man has been arrested on suspicion of assault following an alleged offence at Stevenage football ground on January 8.
”He remained in police custody overnight. Officers are still keen to speak to anyone who witnessed the alleged offence.”
Anyone with information about the attack should contact Hertfordshire Constabulary on 0845 33 00 222 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
If found guilty of assault, Fitzgerald – who lives with his grandparents Stevenage, Herts., – could be banned from attending games for up to ten years.