The former Charlton Athletic midfielder Matt Holmes last night accepted a £250,000 payment as settlement over the tackle which, he says, ended his full-time career.
Holmes was due in court on Monday in an action against Kevin Muscat and the Australian defender's then employers, Wolverhampton Wanderers. He was asking for £2.5m to cover loss of earnings after breaking his leg in a challenge with Muscat in an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Molineux on 3 February 1998, but finally accepted a 10th of that amount.
Holmes, who was 28 at the time of the injury and in his prime as a footballer, was forced to undergo four operations and had to have a steel plate inserted in his leg. He argued in the submissions that Wolves were happy to cultivate Muscat's hard-man image. But the club's solicitors said the tackle was an accident, not a deliberate attempt to injure - nor even reckless or negligent.
"We vigorously contested the case, and this payment is made without any admission of liability," said John Smith, of Davies Arnold Cooper.
"In litigation, it is customary to consider buying off the risk - and that is what has been done in this case." Neither Muscat - now at Millwall after a year at Rangers - nor Wolves will pay a penny. The £250,000 is being handed over by insurers.
The case would have been the first of its kind involving top-flight clubs to go to court since Paul Elliott lost an action against Dean Saunders in 1994 following an incident in a Liverpool v Chelsea game two years earlier.