Footballer denies tackle made with malicious intent: 'Get-well' note sent to injured player

DEAN SAUNDERS, the Welsh international footballer, wrote a get-well note to the player whose career he ended and denied he had been malicious, the High Court was told yesterday.

Mr Saunders wrote the note to the Chelsea defender Paul Elliott, injured by his tackle during a game against Liverpool at Anfield in September 1992.

The message, written a few months after the game, said: 'Just a note to wish you luck in your recovery. Nobody was more disappointed than me. I can promise you there was no malice intended. Hope you are kicking me soon.'

Mr Elliott, 30, is suing Mr Saunders, now with Aston Villa, and his former club Liverpool for negligence and damages that could run into millions of pounds. It is seen as a test case as it is the first involving two high-profile players in a dispute over an injury on the pitch.

Mr Saunders, who denies liability, was playing his last game for Liverpool before his pounds 2.4m move to Aston Villa. He said he jumped at the ball in the tackle because he feared a serious injury as Paul Elliott jumped in. 'I thought I was in big trouble,' he said. 'As soon as he took off I knew there was going to be a collision. Instinct told me to get my feet off the floor. I aimed to land on the ball and I believe I touched it.' He said there was no other option than to go for the ball. He had to be careful about making sliding tackles because when he was 18 he had suffered a serious knee injury, similar to Mr Elliott's.

After the challenge, Mr Saunders said he saw Mr Elliott in agony on the pitch and noticed stud marks on his knee. But there was no antagonism from Chelsea players.

Earlier, the hearing was told in a statement by the former Arsenal manager Bertie Mee that Mr Saunders had deliberately committed the most dangerous type of tackle in football. 'It was a coward's tackle in that he knew what he was doing,' he said.

A former Liverpool midfield player from the early 1970s, Brian Hall, disagreed.

He said: 'The defender had committed himself to a tackle with the simple view of stopping the forward reaching the ball.' Mr Saunders could not have avoided the challenge.

Augustus Ullstein, QC, representing Elliott, said Mr Saunders had previously elbowed a player in the face during an FA Cup tie. Mr Saunders said it was retaliation after the player had knocked out his front tooth.

The case continues today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...