Paul Mitchell has been identified as the man who invaded the pitch while Birmingham City was playing Aston Villa to attack 23-year-old professional soccer player Jack Grealish.
During the Birmingham Derby — otherwise known as the Second City Derby — on Sunday, March 10, the 27-year-old Mitchell ran onto the field of play during the 10th minute of the game and sucker punched Aston Villa star Jack Grealish from behind.
Mitchell, from Rubery, England, pleaded guilty to invading a pitch and assault at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Monday, March 1.
According to the prosecution, Mitchell allegedly told police that he was not drunk during the assault and claimed that his actions were just a “joke.”
During the court hearing, his lawyer Vaughn Whistance claimed that Mitchell’s family had to vacate their home “through fear that they would suffer serious harm or even death” following online responses to the attack.
However, Grealish — who was captain for Aston Villa — was uninjured and remained on the pitch for the remainder of the game, eventually scoring the game’s first and only goal in the 67th minute, sealing the victory for Aston Villa.
Speaking after the game, Grealish said that despite the attack, it was “the best day of his life.”
“It’s the best day of my life to come here for the first time, captain Aston Villa and score the winner,” Grealish said to Sky Sports. “It’s what dreams are made of, especially being an Aston Villa fan,” he continued.
As for the sucker punch, Grealish said he was “unaware” of the attack at the time and “felt a whack around the side of the face.”
“I was just unaware of it (the incident) at the time, I think we had a throw-in in the corner. I was walking into position and I felt a whack around the side of the face,” he explained to reporters.
Following the game, both Birmingham City, Aston Villa, and the EFL released statement strongly condemning Mitchell’s actions.
As for Mitchell, in addition to his pending charges, he has also received a lifetime ban from St Andrews, the home ground of Birmingham City Football Club.
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