Royals academy product Matt Partridge wept in the dock at Reading Crown Court today as a judge told him he would not go to prison following the brutal assault.

The 20-year-old, who lives with his parents in Oak Tree Road, Thatcham, attacked 40-year-old James Mannion in a layby in Woolhampton on August 29 last year.

The court heard how an altercation broke out after the footballer’s silver Vauxhall Astra and Mr Mannion’s motorbike were involved in a minor collision on the A4 Bath Road.

When Partridge refused to give the 40-year-old biker his insurance details - instead launching into a tirade of expletive laden abuse - Mr Mannion attempted to take a photograph of the Reading FC star’s number plate.

Partridge then said “I’m going to kill you” before pushing him into a bush, grabbing him by the throat and punching him three times in the face.

The attack horrified hardened police officers, who found Mr Mannion with blood pouring down his face and a flap of loose skin where Partridge had grabbed his throat.

The assault initially sent the biker blind and caused him to his lose colour vision for some time. He has been told he faces a lifetime of medical check ups.

Sentencing Partridge to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, Judge Angela Morris said: “Your actions were utterly disgraceful. It was a loss of temper which I’m going to describe as somewhat out of character because it’s clear from the information I’ve received that those who know you speak of an otherwise quietly spoken and disciplined young man.

“The thug who was behaving in that disgusting fashion is a very different person to the person I see before me today. You haven’t just lost your good character by your own ill disciplined actions - you let yourself down as well as all of those who have invested so much time and effort in you.

“As a member of the family of Reading FC you’re a role model for those who wish to follow in your footsteps. You don’t just represent yourself, you represent Reading FC, you represent the game of football and there’s nothing for you to be proud of about your actions that day.”

The former Kennet School pupil - who pleaded guilty to ABH in February - was spared jail after two Reading FC stalwarts took to the witness stand to vouch for his character.

Academy Manager Eamon Dolan told the court Partridge was a “popular chap” at the club, which has fined him a month’s wages over the assault.

He added: “I stand here with a passionate belief that the image that he has portrayed upon himself with what he did isn’t the real Matt Partridge and I can say that honestly and passionately.

"This is a young man who does have prospects in society as much as it’s a catastrophic mistake that he’s made and he finds himself in this awful predicament as does the victim. I’m going to be honest and say that I believe this young man to be of good character.”

Academy Safeguarding Manager David Downs said: “What he did was totally unacceptable and this has been pointed out to him at length by senior management at Reading FC. I’d ask the court to consider showing some leniency and I don’t ask that because he’s a valuable member of the first team squad because he’s not - he’s not even a member of the first team squad.

"But he does have potential to make a career as a professional footballer and I ask that the sentence that is imposed doesn’t destroy his potential career and doesn’t destroy Matt himself.”

The court also heard Partridge had a previous caution for hitting a friend in a nightclub after he had been out drinking.

Defending, Steve Molloy said the club had considered cancelling Partridge’s contract and added: “He’s a young man who although a professional footballer earns £350 a week, lives at home with his parents and was driving a Vauxhall Astra. He’s not a millionaire footballer living a lavish lifestyle.

“It’s clear here we have a young man who’s not a thug who goes looking for trouble but someone who has on occasion lost his temper with catastrophic consequences.”