Aidan McAteer, the man being hunted over the hit and run which killed Violet-Grace Youens, was stabbed as a teenager in an attack at his home after a bitter feud turned violent.
It has also emerged the 23-year-old was a youth player with Macclesfield Town FC before his fledgling career went down the pan.
McAteer, who police believe fled the country just three hours after little Violet-Grace was mown down on Prescot Road, St Helens, never progressed to the professional ranks as his life spiralled into a cycle of petty crime and violence.
In 2009, the former St Edmund Arrowsmith RC High pupil was the victim of a vicious knife attack during which he was stabbed.
McAteer, of Prescot, then aged 16, was involved in a scuffle on Bonfire Night at a firework display.
A man later burst into McAteer’s home and chased him around the house, plunging a knife into his side.
Despite the frenzied nature of the attack, McAteer survived and his attacker, 20-year-old Andrew Renshaw, was jailed for three years and nine months.
McAteer’s murky past emerged the day after his mother, Alicia, made an emotional public appeal for her son to give himself up to police.
She said: “I need him to come home.
“He’s running scared.
“I know what he’s done to this family is horrific and what they’re going through, but he is my son and as a mum myself I’m worried about where he is and what his state of mind is.”
Mrs McAteer said she felt “numb” after seeing a CCTV image released by police after the crash of her son.
She said she contacted police after seeing the photo.
She said: “I was just thinking of that poor woman and little girl.”
She added: “I don’t condone this and if I could go back in time I would.”
The mother of four, who has another son, 18, and two daughters aged 11 and 20, said she would usually hear from Mr AcAteer every day, but had not heard from him since before the crash.
She said: “I’m a mum to children and I don’t know how I would feel if this happened to them.
“What I’m feeling is probably a fraction of what she is.”
Violet-Grace Youens died in hospital in her mother’s arms on Saturday after she was struck by a stolen black Ford Fiesta while walking through St Helens, on Friday.