Footballer's challenge 'intended to cause injury'

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The Independent Online
THE FORMER Wimbledon footballer John Fashanu deliberately intended to injure his opponent when he launched an 'over-the- ball' tackle that ended the career of the Northern Ireland international player John O'Neill, the High Court was told yesterday.

Giving his assessment after watching a video-tape of the incident during a match between Norwich and Wimbledon in 1987, Billy Bingham, former manager of the Northern Ireland team, said he did not believe Fashanu had made a genuine attempt to play the ball and 'was going for the man'.

Mr Justice Collins said: 'You are suggesting a deliberate attempt to cause injury . . . That is imputing a high degree of venom and wickedness on Mr Fashanu's part, isn't it?' Mr Bingham replied: 'Yes, it is. He was going for the man and not the ball.'

Later the judge said: 'You are telling me that it was, in your view, not just a bit of foolish, reckless, dangerous play, but deliberate intent to injure?' Mr Bingham answered: 'It was, sir.'

O'Neill, 36, is seeking damages for alleged reckless negligence and assault. Fashanu - who now plays for Aston Villa - and Wimbledon FC deny the allegations.

The case continues today.