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Last Updated: Monday, 3 July 2006, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Footballer 'hit out after jibe'
Gary Charles
Mr Charles's career was ended by a knee injury
An ex-England footballer attacked a woman in a taxi rank after she joked he was not good enough to play for Manchester United, a court has heard.

Gary Charles, 36, was on a night out when he knocked Elizabeth Wedge, 43, to the ground and kicked her, a jury at Derby Crown Court was told.

The alleged incident took place in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, in September 2005.

Mr Charles, who also played for Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Shouted response

Siward James-Moore, prosecuting, said Mr Charles was too drunk to book his own taxi home so Miss Wedge tried to help.

"It was at this point, without any provocation, that his tone and attitude changed," he said.

"He shouted at Miss Wedge: 'Do you know who I am?'. He said he was a professional football player."

Miss Wedge, a Manchester United fan, joked Mr Charles had not been good enough to play for her team.

No memory

"The response she got to that was the defendant lashing out at her without warning," said Mr James-Moore.

"He began punching Miss Wedge, knocking her to the floor."

Mr Charles was arrested and spent the night at a police station. The next day, he told a police officer he could not remember why he was in custody.

The trial is expected to last two days.

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