Footballer 'may have tried to fool referee'

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DEAN SAUNDERS, the Welsh international footballer, may have tried to fool the referee over a tackle that wrecked the career of an opponent, the High Court was told yesterday, writes Graham Moorby.

He may then have attempted to deflect the blame by asking the Chelsea defender Paul Elliott as he clutched his knee in agony: 'What have you done, have you twisted it?'

Mr Elliott, 30, is suing Mr Saunders, an Aston Villa player, and his former club Liverpool for negligence over a challenge during a game at Anfield in September 1992. Damages could amount to millions of pounds.

Augustus Ullstein QC, for Mr Elliott, said players sometimes tried to disguise fouls by going over the ball and into an opponent. A good way of deflecting blame would be to ask the opponent if he had twisted his knee.

Mr Saunders said he sometimes handled the ball and tried to get away with it and may have tried to disguise fouls. But he denied attempting to foul Paul Elliott. 'I jumped in the air in the direction of the ball,' he said. 'At the same time I hoped to avoid his flailing legs. I knew I had landed on his knee but I did not feel I had landed on him that heavily.'

The case was adjourned until 7 June.

Ruth Picardie, page 11