Police have arrested a man on suspicion of assault after Sheffield United star Billy Sharp was the subject of a shocking attack by a Nottingham Forest supporter.
Forest booked their place in the Championship play-off final in a nail-biting penalty shootout on Tuesday night but the celebrations were overshadowed by disgraceful scenes following the match at the City Ground.
Brice Samba’s save to deny Morgan Gibbs-White won the semi-final tie and it sparked a rapid pitch invasion from thousands of Forest fans.
Most celebrated with their own players but one made a beeline for the Sheffield United technical area and charged at Blades forward Sharp with his head.
Sharp, who had been a substitute, was knocked to the ground with Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom saying: “It’s assault. We’ve seen one of our players attacked.
“He’s shaken up, bleeding, angry. It’ll be dealt with.”
Forest quickly condemned the incident, saying the offender will be subject to “a life ban” from the club and issued an apology to Sharp.
Police later confirmed a 31-year-old man had been arrested.
Nottinghamshire Police’s chief inspector Paul Hennessy said: “A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with this incident. He remains in custody and will be questioned by officers.
“Our enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident are ongoing. We have spoken to the player concerned and we are working with both clubs who are supporting us with our investigation.”
The incident overshadowed Forest’s win, where the Reds’ victory secured a play-off final showdown against Huddersfield on Sunday, May 29 at Wembley Stadium and the chance of a top-flight return for the first time since 1999.
The vile attack on Sharp stunned talkSPORT hosts Jamie O’Hara and Jason Cundy, who want the perpetrator to have the book thrown at him.
O’Hara said on The Sports Bar: “It’s a disgusting incident. We talked about it before we’ve even seen the incident and this is what we are talking about. It is unsafe, it is shocking and it needs to stop.
“The pitch invasions have got to stop because something like this is going to happen and it has.”
Cundy added: “First of all I hope Billy Sharp is okay, shocking, shocking images. The guy runs at him at pace, he’s a big boy and Billy Sharp doesn’t see him coming.
“It’s assault. Worst case it’s a body charge, that’s being kind, it looks like a headbutt.
“It’s a disgraceful thing to see, it’s shocked me watching that. That’s a prison sentence right there, that’s the way I see it. That is an assault.
“He’s in a lot of trouble that fella.”
Cundy later added: “He doesn’t see it coming, he’s relaxed, he turns his head and this thug – he’s a big fat thing as well – puts his big, bald head right in Billy Sharp’s face at pace.”
Thankfully it appears Sharp will make a full recovery from the incident but O’Hara hopes the authorities will take the measures needed to ensure an incident like this doesn’t happen again.
O’Hara said: “This is what annoys me in English culture, something doesn’t get done until it’s too late. We react to an incident that happens but it needs to be stopped straight away.
“It is the worst assault I’ve seen on a football pitch. It’s shocking.”