Eric Cantona victim assaulted coach

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The Independent Online

The man who was kicked by Eric Cantona at a Manchester United match more than 15 years ago was found guilty yesterday of punching a man at a children's football game.

Matthew Simmons, 36, who received the kung fu kick at a game between Manchester United and Crystal Palace in 1995, attacked Stuart Cooper, the former manager of his son's football team. A jury at Kingston Crown Court in south-west London found him guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm.

The court heard that Simmons, of Thornton Heath, south London, held a grudge because his son, now 13, was dropped from the under-8s side when his infamous altercation with French striker Cantona was brought to Mr Cooper's attention.

Simmons told the court that he acted in self-defence when the pair crossed paths at the pre-season friendly game played in south-east London in August 2010. He said Mr Cooper had branded him "Nazi scum" and looked as though he was going to attack him. Simmons said: "When I knew he was in the process of punching me, unfortunately I punched him."

Mr Cooper told the jury he received blows to his face, arm and chest, leaving him with a bloody nose and covered in bruises, including a black eye. The court heard that Simmons had previous convictions for public order offences, assault and a caution for common assault. The case was adjourned for sentencing on 9 May.