Former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs had a “sinister” side to his character and subjected his ex-girlfriend to a “litany of abuse”, a court heard.
Giggs is charged with using controlling and coercive behaviour against Kate Greville, 36, between August 2017 and November 2020.
He is also accused of assaulting Ms Greville, causing her actual bodily harm, and of the common assault of her younger sister, Emma Greville, at his home in Worsley, Greater Manchester, on 1 November 2020.
Giggs has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The 48-year-old was flanked by his legal team and surrounded by a large press pack as he arrived at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester on Monday.
Outlining its case, the prosecution said that the former Manchester United star was “idolised by adoring fans and supporters” but that his character had an ugly side and this was a “story of control and coercion”.
Peter Wright QC told jurors: “Off the pitch in the privacy of his own personal life at home or behind closed doors, there was, we say the facts reveal, a much uglier and more sinister side to his character.
“This was a private life that involved a litany of abuse, both physical and psychological, of a woman he professed to love.
“A woman who, in reality, was, if the evidence is to be believed, treated in a way that cannot be excused or overlooked, by either an adoring public or the law.
“This is a story of control and coercion of a woman who thought she was loved and respected; sadly, the reality was very different.
“Eventually, after years of turbulence, when the scales fell from her eyes, she realised she needed to remove herself from his sphere of influence.”
Mr Wright said the result of this decision to break off the relationship was the incident on 1 November 2020, when Giggs is alleged to have assaulted Ms Greville at his home in Worsley, along with the assault of her sister.
Giggs is alleged to have “lost control” and headbutted Ms Greville, Mr Wright told the jury.
While out together with friends at Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel that evening, Ms Greville decided to terminate their relationship, said Mr Wright.
He said: “She knew that the defendant had once again been cheating on her.
“During the evening the defendant’s behaviour towards her led to her making that decision and making an early departure. In advance of her return home, she informed her sister by text message of her plan.
“She intended to make her departure before he got back from the hotel. The plan did not work.
“As she was vacating the defendant’s home address, he came back and began arguing with her and trying to stop her leaving.”
The prosecutor said she took his phone as a “bargaining chip” to try to persuade him not to prevent her from going.
A heated argument followed and Giggs then attempted to grab her phone, which was later found on a fence post in the garden of the property, said Mr Wright.
In the alleged altercation that followed they grappled together on the floor before Ms Greville’s sister stepped in, the court heard.
Mr Wright said: “She [Emma Greville] tried to pull the defendant off her sister. For her pains the defendant, we say, deliberately elbowed her in the jaw causing her discomfort and shock that he would turn violence on to her as well as her sister.
“The argument between the defendant and Kate Greville moved to the kitchen. The couple continued to argue about her mobile phone.
“At that stage, we say, the defendant entirely lost self-control and he deliberately headbutted Kate, thereby causing swelling to her lips and bruising. Emma then called the police, who attended the premises.”
Mr Wright told the jury he would give a “snapshot” of the nature of the relationship between the defendant and Ms Greville, a woman more than 10 years younger than him.
He said the incidents included threatening to send images “of a personal nature” to her friends, throwing her belongings out of his house when she questioned him about relationships with other women, appearing unwanted at her home or gym, and contacting her friends to get her to speak to him again.
The former Wales international’s barrister, Chris Daw QC, made a shorter opening statement on behalf of his client.
Mr Daw said: “He never once used unlawful violence against Ms Greville during the course of their relationship, no matter how bad things got.
“His defence to the assaults is simple. Those accusations are based on distortion, exaggerations and lies. He assaulted no one.
“In the weeks before, Kate Greville said to her friends that she was determined not to walk away from the relationship with nothing.”
He said Giggs and Ms Greville both tripped and fell to the floor in the kitchen at his home in Worsley and she kicked him in the face as he tried to disentangle himself.
Mr Daw said Giggs was not even aware that the complainant’s sister was in the house at the time and certainly did not elbow her, as alleged.
The alleged headbutt was “not only a nasty lie but a ridiculous one”, he said, as the evidence will show there was mere “minor and accidental contact” between their faces.
He went on: “In stark contrast to the picture painted by Ms Greville, Mr Giggs did not control or coerce at all.”
The trial continues.
Additional reporting by PA