Simone Mastrelli, 30, from Rome, pleaded guilty to unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Sean Cox outside Liverpool's Anfield Stadium on April 24th, before their match with Italian side Roma.
Irish national Cox suffered a severe, traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack and is still recovering after spending four-and-a-half weeks at a specialist neurological unit.
Mastrelli knocked Cox unconscious with a single heavy blow to the face, as he led a group of 'ultras', some of whom were carrying belts in their hands as weapons.
Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP
Cox's daughter Shauna, 20, read out a statement as Mastrelli watched on at Preston Crown Court in northwest England.
“Before this brutal and vicious attack my dad was a fit and confident man, a man of integrity with a huge passion for life who represented everything which is good,” she said. “This violent and unprovoked attack left dad in a dire situation.
“His future is uncertain. We don't know how he will progress and that really frightens us.”
Mastrelli was arrested in Italy last month on a European arrest warrant before being extradited to Britain.
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Judge Mark Brown, told Mastrelli that “there is no doubt in my mind that you went to the stadium as a group to sort out the Liverpool supporters and in doing so you have destroyed the life of an innocent man and his family.
“This was, on any view, a dreadful offence. It has had a profound impact on Mr Cox and his family.”
Another Roma fan, Filippo Lombardi, 21, was last year jailed for three years for violent disorder over the incident. A third fan, Daniele Sciusco, 29, also admitted violent disorder and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Sporadic trouble broke out in Liverpool city centre before the match as more than 50,000 fans made their way to Anfield, including around 5,000 Roma fans.