A teenage footballer, who broke a rival player's jaw "in retaliation after a nasty tackle" in a game, could be facing jail.
Jack Bottomley (19) punched Ryan Durkin once after he hit the ground in the five-a-side league match.
Bottomley, who at one time wanted to be a professional soccer player, repeatedly said he was sorry after the violence at Crow Wood Leisure Centre in Burnley, the town's magistrates were told.
The victim had to have an operation to have metal plates inserted in his face after the attack and he was kept in hospital. The attack was caught on CCTV cameras.
Bottomley, of Whitpark Grove, Burnley, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on Friday, March 24th.
He will be sentenced at the end of September. The defendant, who has no previous convictions, was warned by the bench chairman: "Custody is not being ruled out at this stage."
Mrs Alex Mann, prosecuting, said: "The defendant punched the victim once to the jaw after a nasty tackle at a football match.
"It's in retaliation. He has shown remorse since. He was taken to the ground in a bad tackle then ran at him and punched him.
"He made a lot of comments saying he was sorry and didn't mean to do it."
Mr Daniel Frazer, defending, said Bottomley had been kicked with some force. A free kick was given.
The solicitor continued: "The referee says its a cynical foul.
"He fell over hard to the floor and he was upset by that. The referee was going to book the opposing player, but then he takes the law into his own hands, gets up, goes to the player and punched him once in the face.
"It was a flashpoint."
Mr Frazer said the complainant's father took him to hospital. He told the hearing :"Mr Bottomley said to the police "I'm really sorry. I have messed up. I shouldn't have done it."
The solicitor handed the justices a letter from the defendant's teacher at Accrington Stanley Community Trust.
Mr Frazer added:" He was potentially going to be a a professional footballer. He decided to go along the coaching side and he was in the process of doing that when this incident occurred."
"There seems to be some provocation. As soon as he reacted, he regretted it. He knew he shouldn't have done it."