Following a week-long trial, Sammy Philpott, 37, was acquitted of six charges in emotional scenes at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Mr Philpott had claimed he used self-defence when he sunk a knife into 6ft 7in Moneyfields centre-back Stanlie Hopkins and the footballer’s brother-in-law Daniel Forster.
Mr Philpott, of Eastern Road, Portsmouth, told jurors he was ‘protecting’ himself and feeling ‘scared’ during a fight in the Red Lion pub car park in Cosham on October 25 that left all three in hospital.
Mr Philpott and Mr Hopkins had been involved in a ‘tense’ exchange earlier in the day at a funeral wake at the Conservative Club in Cosham before coming to blows later.
Philpott had denied two counts of wounding with intent, two counts of unlawful wounding and two counts of possessing an offensive weapon.
And jurors, returning their verdicts on Monday at 12.20pm after around two hours of deliberations, found Philpott not guilty of all the offences in front of supporters from both sides in a packed public gallery.
As he left the dock, the defendant said: ‘I was telling the truth.’
Speaking outside to The News, amid jubilant scenes from his supporters and frustration from those on Mr Hopkins side, Mr Philpott said: ‘I am absolutely buzzing.
‘But the truth is I’ve always told the truth. The jury has believed what I’ve said when I got up in the dock, that I was telling the truth.
‘They (Mr Hopkins and Mr Forster and his partner) are all family members and they can’t all get their story straight even when they are standing in the dock, let alone in the police station.
‘This is what it’s come to, me being attacked and protecting myself. I’ve known these people all my life. I wouldn’t want to start this in the first place.’
Mr Philpott said the incident has had a massive impact on his life. ‘It’s ruined my life, I’ve lost my home,’ he said.
‘I hardly get to see my boy any more. I’ve been in prison because of this and for what? The jury saw the video - it didn’t take much to realise.
‘The video said it all. They were lying from the start.’
He added: ‘The truth has come out. It’s unfortunate what’s happened to everyone but this is where we are. It’s a big weight off my shoulders.’
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Prosecutor Helen Easterbrook said during the trial that Mr Philpott had armed himself with a knife and a hammer before carrying out the attack.
But Hugh French, for the defence, poured cold water on witness accounts which he called ‘unreliable’ and said the defendant was forced to defend himself after being ‘rounded on’ by a number of people.
During his evidence, Mr Philpott admitted to getting out of his car with a rubber mallet as the pair scrapped, with the brawl spilling out across the pub car park.
‘It’s no excuse. At the time I was worried about myself. I was trying to protect myself. That’s the truth,’ he said.