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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 13:38 GMT
Night out ended in violence
Majestyk Nightclub
The footballers were drinking at a Leeds nightclub
BBC News Online explains how a night of drinking and clubbing by one of England's most promising young footballers ended with a violent attack on a student.

It began as a night on the town for a young footballer and his friends, knocking back drinks in pubs and clubs.

It ended with a vicious attack that put 19-year-old Sarfraz Najeib into hospital with broken bones.


I knew that I'd had a drink, but I was not steaming drunk

Jonathan Woodgate

It now appears the conviction of Jonathan Woodgate for affray - and the subsequent sentence of 100 hours community service - will have little impact on his football career.

The fact that he was cleared of the more serious charge of grievous bodily harm was crucial in allowing him to stay in the game.

His England and Leeds team mate, Lee Bowyer, was clearly enormously relieved to have been cleared of both charges of grievous bodily harm and affray.

The Leeds United chairman has already said that both men will be available to play for the club. Woodgate will, however, face some form of disciplinary action.

The whole affair has done little for the reputation of football, a sport that has been trying to throw off the image of drunkenness and violence so often associated with its fans.

Alcopops

The incident that put Woodgate and his friends in the dock started in Leeds city centre on a night in January, last year.

Sarfraz Najeib had gone to the Majestyk nightclub with his brother Shahzad and three friends, then students at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib was left unconscious after chase
They had not had any alcohol. But as they were leaving the club they encountered a group of young white men who clearly had been drinking.

The court was told that Jonathan Woodgate had been enjoying a night out with school friends from his native Middlesbrough.

They had already visited two pubs, a wine bar and a lap-dancing club, drinking "alcopops", before moving on to the nightclub.

At the Majestyk, the group met another Leeds United player, Lee Bowyer, who was celebrating his birthday with two other Leeds players, Harry Kewell and Michael Bridges.

Mr Bowyer told the court he had played no part in the attack that followed, and the jury accepted his evidence. Jonathan Woodgate was also cleared of causing grievous bodily harm.

Chase

The students left the club at 12.30am, intending to go straight home because they had lectures the next morning.


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The BBC's John Thorne
"Both Woodgate and Bowyer consistently denied any part in that beating"

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