FOOTBALLER James Kelly was jailed yesterday for five years for killing a man by kicking him in the head.

The 22-year-old Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder attacked Mr Peter Dunphy, 26, in an early-morning brawl outside a Liverpool hotel.

Kelly, of Caernarvon Court, Willenhall, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Liverpool Crown Court judge, Mr Justice John Kay, sentencing, told Kelly: ``It may well be that a sentence of imprisonment will ruin your chosen career.

``But you will be able to re-build your life in the future. The deceased is denied that opportunity by your violent kick.''

The judge jailed Kelly's 23-year-old brother John and a third man, Kevin Atkinson, who admitted assaulting Mr Dunphy, for nine months.

The court had heard that Mr Dunphy died almost instantly after the kick.

The judge said the three men, who had been drinking, had acted foolishly after being refused re-entry to the Bradford Hotel in Tithebarn Street, where they had earlier attended an 18th birthday party.

They had not initially instigated the trouble but eventually the three of them attacked Mr Dunphy.

John Kelly and 22-year-old Atkinson punched him and when he was bent double, ``representing no threat to anyone, James Kelly delivered a very, very forceful kick''.

Prosecuting counsel David Steer QC said the three men had returned to the hotel early on September 4, 1994, to say goodbye to relatives.

Mr Dunphy was among a group of men who refused them entry and a scuffle then broke out in the street.

Mr Dunphy's friends went back in, bolted the door, and only then realised he had been left outside and went out to look for him.

He was found lying on the ground with John Kelly and Atkinson kneeling on him. As he struggled to get up, James Kelly ``brought his foot all the way back and aimed a blow at Peter Dunphy's upper body as if kicking a football''.

Mr Philip Ashton, the hotel night porter, told police: ``I don't think he could have kicked him any harder.''

Afterwards, James Kelly shouted: ``You wanted it and you got it.''

Kelly, who has a two-month-old daughter, had signed for Wolves from Wrexham for #100,000 and had played six times for the first team.