A soccer fan has admitted lying in a bid to smear Northern Ireland football international David Healy after claiming he was assaulted by the player in Belfast city centre.
Conor Crossan, a Catholic from north Belfast, admitted to a court that he misled the Irish Football Association in an attempt to prevent Healy, 33, playing for Northern Ireland against the Netherlands a year ago.
He told District Judge Peter King: "I was angry. I had a broken nose. I did not want him to get his trip away to be an international hero."
Healy, who was playing for Rangers at the time, denied the assault allegation. He admitted their heads clashed but insisted he acted in self defence after being subjected to sectarian abuse in which he was called an "orange bastard".
During the hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court, it was revealed that five years earlier Crossan allegedly called a Protestant workmate an "orange bastard".
Crossan, 33, who was also referred to at earlier hearings as James Geroid Crossan, had claimed he was headbutted by Healy after a night out in Belfast last May. He told police it was an unprovoked attack and that he had not tried to approach the striker.
But, in an email to the Irish Football Association's Belfast office days later he said he had been attacked after asking for a photograph with the player, who scored 34 goals for Northern Ireland.
Crossan, a self-employed father of two, said he decided to send the email because he had not heard back from police after lodging his complaint.
The court also heard how Crossan had four pints of lager, seven bottles of beer and three cocktails during a pub crawl with two friends on the night of the incident. He denied being intoxicated.
Acquitting Healy, District Judge King said Crossan's evidence could not be relied upon because of the amount of drink he had had, the newspaper interview and the email to the IFA