Disgraced ex-England footballer Gary Charles was unrepentant yesterday as he was spared a jail term for attacking a woman after she joked about his career.
In a drunken rage in September last year, the twice-capped 36-year-old punched Elizabeth Wedge to the ground and kicked her after she quipped: "You can't be that good - you never played for Manchester United."
Charles was given a nine-month suspended sentence when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court after he was found guilty of actual bodily harm at a trial in Derby earlier this month.
The court heard that the former Aston Vill player was a recovering alcoholic who remembered nothing of the incident, but had been struggling to stay sober for the last year.
Ordering the former Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Aston Villa defender to do 100 hours of unpaid work and to pay £500 in costs, Recorder David Grant told him: "The common theme to your offending is the effect of excessive consumption of alcohol.
"Neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified, there will be a sentence of imprisonment."
Recorder Grant said he would suspend the sentence because of Charles's work to combat his alcoholism and he had been described by the Probation Service as being of a low risk of re-offending.
"Your risk is directly related to the effect of your consumption of alcohol.
"There was no evidence at all of Elizabeth Wedge suffering any long-term injury or disability by reason of the assault."
Charles, of Stretton in Derbyshire, was convicted by a jury, but still denies the attack. In court he admitted he was an alcoholic and remembered little of the night in question because he was so drunk.
Outside court, the footballer refused to apologise to 42-year-old Miss Wedge.
He said: "I still deny it happened. I could have appealed against the verdict, but I decided against it.
"It would have taken months and I want to get on with my life... the most important thing to me now is my children."
Charles punched and kicked Miss Wedge in the booking office of A2B Taxis in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, on September 9 last year.
He punched her to the floor and then aimed kicks at her head, but was stopped by a passing taxi-driver.