Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 13:23 UK

Man Utd player wins 4.5m payout

Ben Collett - pic courtesy of M.E.N. Syndication
Ben Collett was making his debut for the reserves when his leg was broken

A former Manchester United player whose career was ended when he was injured in a tackle has been awarded more than 4.5m in compensation.

Ben Collett, 23, broke his leg in a reserve game against Middlesbrough five years ago, at the age of 18.

Boro player Gary Smith and his club admitted liability for the injury.

The total compensation will be decided when sums for future loss of pension and interest on past loss of earnings are determined at a hearing in October.

Sitting at London's High Court, Mrs Justice Swift awarded the player 4.3m and said the final sum payable to Collett was unlikely to be less than 4.5m.

Collett's solicitor Jan Levinson said the award "reflects Ben's talent and potential prior to the tackle as one of the brightest young footballers in the country".

Collett's solicitor statement

He added: "Having said that, Ben would have preferred to have earned this through a full career in the game."

The match against Middlesbrough was Collett's debut for United's reserve team.

Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson described him as an "outstanding" player.

Collett joined United's youth academy aged nine and went on to become a member of the club's FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2003.

But his right leg was broken in two places in the match in May 2003.

The compensation will be paid by Middlesbrough's insurers.

'Fantastic focus'

Mrs Justice Swift said had it not been for the injury Collett would have been offered a three-year professional contract with Manchester United.

At an earlier hearing in Manchester Sir Alex said: "I thought the boy showed fantastic focus, a great attitude to work hard and they are qualities to give any player an outstanding chance in the game."

The court had heard that Mr Collett could have earned more than 13,000 a week, making a total in excess of 16m if he had played until the age of 35.

Mrs Justice Swift awarded Mr Collett 3,854,328 for future loss of earnings.

During his 11 years at Manchester United, he had impressed players and staff at all levels, from Sir Alex Ferguson and Mr Gary Neville to the contemporaries who played alongside him
Mrs Justice Swift

The figure for general damages for pain and suffering, loss of amenity and loss of congenial employment was 35,000.

Past loss of earnings was put at 456,095.

Mrs Justice Swift said of Collett in her ruling: "I found him a most impressive young man.

"He was plainly intelligent and it is clear that he has brought - and will in the future bring - to his academic studies the same dedication and commitment that he formerly applied to football."

She said that Collett's "positive attitude towards his injury and to the devastating blow of being unable to pursue his chosen career does him great credit".

Collett plans to take up a place at Leeds University next month to study English.

Other witnesses at the hearings included United captain Gary Neville.

The judge said: "During his 11 years at Manchester United, he had impressed players and staff at all levels, from Sir Alex Ferguson and Mr Gary Neville to the contemporaries who played alongside him."

Gary Smith, 24, was released by Middlesbrough and went on to play for MK Dons, before a free transfer to his current club, Brentford FC.

A spokesman for Brentford said Smith would not be commenting on the outcome of the case.

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