Andrew Cole was allegedly the target of racism on Aer Lingus flight to Manchester
Andrew Cole was the target of racist abuse on Aer Lingus flight to Manchester Reuters

An aircraft passenger has admitted racially abusing former Manchester United striker Andy Cole in a drunken outburst.

Cole, a Champions League winner while he was at Old Trafford, was subjected to racist abuse aboard an Aer Lingus flight to Manchester from Dublin.

Police were waiting to apprehend the suspect when the aircraft landed at Manchester airport after cabin crew reported two men on board who were drunk and uncooperative.

Cole, 42, tweeted his thanks for messages of support he received in the aftermath of the incident:

At Trafford Magistrates Court, Lee Bryne, 28, pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence and being drunk on an aircraft.

Another man, Tregory Horan of no fixed address, admitted being drunk on a plane.

Both men could face prison. Drunkenness on an aircraft is an offence that carries a five-year sentence.

Since retiring from playing football, Cole has been heavily involved in campaigning with Kick It Out, the anti-racism group.