BENJAMIN MENDY has made his return to football after being cleared of rape.
The France international's career was put on hold for over two years after he was accused of attacking two women during lockdown-busting parties at his Cheshire mansion during his time with Premier League champions Manchester City.
In July, Mendy, 29, was acquitted – cleared of one count of rape and one count of attempted rape after a jury deliberated for three hours.
The acquittals followed a jury clearing him of six alleged rapes and one attempted sexual assault in January.
The verdicts paved the way for him to return to Ligue 1 with FC Lorient.
And the full-back was handed his debut on Sunday afternoon against former club AS Monaco.
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Mendy came on as a second-half sub in the match at the Stade du Moustoir, replacing Vincent Le Goff.
Lorient were 2-1 down at the time of Mendy's introduction to the match.
But they salvaged a point through a 98th-minute equaliser from Bournemouth loanee Romain Faivre.
Mendy's cameo appearance was his first outing on the pitch in 25 months.
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His last game came in Manchester City's 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in North London in August 2021.
He was suspended by the club 11 days later after being charged pending a police investigation.
Mendy joined Lorient five days after his acquittal, which brought him to tears.
And in a statement via his solicitor, he vowed to begin "rebuilding his life".
Jenny Wiltshire, the head of serious and general crime at Hickman & Rose, said: "Benjamin Mendy would like to thank the members of the jury for focussing on the evidence in this trial, rather than on the rumour and innuendo that have followed this case from the outset.
"This is the second time that Mr Mendy has been tried and found not guilty by a jury.
"He is delighted that both juries reached the correct verdicts.
"It has been almost three years since the police started investigating this matter.
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"Mr Mendy has tried to remain strong but the process has, inevitably, had a serious impact on him.
"He thanks everyone who has supported him throughout this ordeal and now asks for privacy so he can begin rebuilding his life."
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