Liverpool and England midfielder Steven Gerrard has been found not guilty of affray at Liverpool Crown Court.
Gerrard admitted hitting Marcus McGee, 34, in a Southport bar last December and a jury at the city's Crown Court accepted his explanation that it was in self-defence.
The 29-year-old was the only one of seven defendants to be cleared over what the judge described as an "explosion of violence" at the Lounge Inn during which McGee lost a tooth and suffered facial cuts.
The trial heard that Gerrard was at the Lounge Inn in Southport, Merseyside, on 29th December to celebrate Liverpool's 5-1 demolition of Newcastle United hours earlier.
The Reds' captain, who scored twice in the game, was enjoying a night out with a party of friends including Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish, 58.
CCTV footage from the bar showed Gerrard and his friends drinking beer, downing shots and dancing round while chanting football songs.
But trouble flared at around 2am when the father-of-two wanted to change the music on the CD player.
Gerrard apologised for what happened, telling the jury: "I am sorry about the whole incident."
CCTV footage showed that Gerrard's friend, John Doran, actually struck the first blow.
Five of Gerrard's friends who accompanied him that night admitted affray.
They are Ian Smith, 19, of Hilary Avenue, Doran, 29, of Woodlands Road, and Paul McGrattan, 31, of Linden Drive, all Huyton, and Accrington Stanley footballers Robert Grant, 19, of Enstone Avenue, Litherland, and Ian Dunbavin, 28, of Guildford Road, Southport.
Another friend, John McGrattan, 34, of Rimmer Avenue, Huyton, admitted threatening behaviour.
Gerrard showed no emotion when the jury foreman delivered the not guilty verdict after 70 minutes of deliberation.
Judge Henry Globe told Gerrard: "The verdict is a credible verdict on the full facts of this case, and you walk away from this court with your reputation intact."
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Gerrard said: "Can I just say how pleased I am with today's verdict.
"I'd like to put this case behind me. I'm really looking forward to the season ahead and concentrating on football.
"I'd like to say a big thank you to my legal team, my friends and family and to everyone at Liverpool Football Club for supporting me."