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English soccer fan sentenced to 14 weeks in jail for punching player during game

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish said he's lucky his attacker wasn't armed with a weapon.

BIRMINGHAM, England — A Birmingham City soccer team supporter was sentenced to 14 weeks in jail after pleading guilty Monday to assaulting Jack Grealish, the captain of the opposing team, Aston Villa, during a match.

In a League Championship game on Sunday between the city rivals, Paul Mitchell, 27, ran onto the field and landed a punch on the player's face.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to assault in Birmingham Magistrates' Court.

"Mr. Grealish felt a punch to the right side of his lower jaw and he realized he has been assaulted by a Blues supporter," prosecutor Jonathan Purser said.

"Footage showed him taking a running swing and jumping on the back of Mr. Grealish and throwing that punch. It appears to have caused no physical injuries, fortunately."

Birmingham has already announced that Mitchell has been banned for life from its stadium.

Mitchell's lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, told the hearing that his client's family had to leave their home "through fear that they would suffer serious harm or even death" following online comments about the incident.

"My client doesn't seek to justify his behavior at all," Whistance said. "He has brought shame upon himself and his family ... and the football club he has supported since he was a child.

Later in the match, Grealish scored to give Villa a 1-0 victory over Birmingham. The captain scored in front of his team's traveling supporters, touching off a wild celebration.

"He apologizes to Aston Villa and in particular Jack Grealish for his terrible behavior," Whistance said of Mitchell. "He cannot explain what came over him. He is certainly remorseful today."

Grealish issued a statement through the prosecutor, saying he felt fortunate the fan only used his fist — and not a weapon, according to Sky News.

"I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident," according to Grealish. "It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon."

Later on Sunday in a separate incident in London, a man was charged for going on the Emirates Stadium field and pushing Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.

Gary Cooper appeared to be trying to join Arsenal players in celebrating a goal in the Premier League match.

Cooper was charged with "common assault and going on to the playing area" and will appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on March 26, police said.