Jail for ex-England striker Dixon
Former Chelsea and England striker Kerry Dixon has been jailed for nine months for a "sickening" attack on a drinker who allegedly called him "fatso" in a pub.
It is a shocking fall from grace for the former star, who had a glittering career in top-flight football but now is struggling with a gambling problem and is working as a labourer to pay off his debts.
Dixon, 53, punched father-of-two Ben Scoble, 38, in a row over a bar stool and then subjected him to a flurry of blows on the floor at the Nags Head pub in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
The attack in the early hours of May 15, last year, was caught on CCTV and was so shocking jurors let out an audible gasp when it was played to them.
Dixon, who scored 147 goals for Chelsea, becoming the club's third highest goal scorer, was sentenced at Luton Crown Court.
Judge Barbara Mensah said the attack was "shocking and sickening to watch" and branded the violence "disproportionate, unnecessary and completely over the top".
She said: "You were not just striking him, knocking him off his bar stool, but continuing to strike him when he was on the ground. Then you continued to pummel him on the ground."
On the night of the attack Dixon had a run-in with his victim in the pub's toilet, where he claimed Mr Scoble made disparaging comments towards him.
He told the builder to "leave it out" but things turned violent when their paths crossed again when Mr Scoble sat in Dixon's seat at the bar.
The judge said: "At worst, on your account, all he says to you after this brief exchange that he ought to sit somewhere else, is 'f*** off, fatso'."
She added: "It's absolutely clear to me, if he did say those words - because this was CCTV without words - he didn't move, seek to strike, or get off the chair.
"You claim you had a serious fear of being glassed because of an incident when you were the victim of an unprovoked glassing (in the past).
"Why go over to Mr Scoble in that case, if he had a glass in his hand?"
Judge Mensah went on: "Out of the blue, as we see on CCTV, we see you still very annoyed immediately strike Mr Scoble.
"You were annoyed and clearly going to teach him a lesson."
She said the footage showed Dixon's victim floored with the second punch, and then several kicks rained down "about his head".
Dixon, who also played for Luton Town, Reading, Southampton, Millwall, and Doncaster Rovers, and earned eight caps for England, protested his innocence, insisting he was acting in self defence.
But he was convicted by a jury after a five-day hearing with the judge describing the attack as "completely unprovoked".
His defence QC Mark Wyeth told the court Dixon is in a programme to help him with his "gambling and associated matters".
He said Dixon has elderly parents who rely on him and his media work commitments had dried up.
The former star has taken up work as a labourer to make ends meet for him and his partner and is now living in a council house.
Mr Wyeth said the former footballer had suffered a depressive illness, but was now "addressing the difficulties he's had with various problems".
Judge Mensah said she accepted Dixon had shown "genuine remorse" for the attack.
Speaking outside court, Mr Wyeth said both the Professional Footballers' Association and Chelsea FC had been "very supportive" of Dixon.
"He's got himself into a programme, finally, of sorting out his gambling issues and the residual debt," he added.
Before sentencing, Dixon, carrying a black holdall in expectation of today's sentence, told reporters: "Whatever will be, will be."