An airline pilot who let Premiership footballer Robbie Savage onto the flight deck has been sacked for breaking anti-terrorism rules.

Former Gulf War RAF pilot Pablo Mason was dismissed by Mytravel after letting the midfielder near the controls in an effort to ease his fear of flying.

The Blackburn Rovers player had been travelling with his team on a private charter flight from Finland in August.

Cpt Mason, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said he would appeal.

He admitted bending the rules but denied putting the flight at risk.

He said: "Yes I broke a rule. I did interpret the rule wasn't quite as strict for a private charter, which this was. Everyone on board knew each other."

He said that he believed the experience had helped Savage, who also played for Birmingham City, Leicester City and Wales, with his fear of flying.

He said: "I think above all his anxiety about flying has been relaxed in some way.

"He knows a little more about how and why a modern airline gets into the sky and I think he sees the captain as being someone to trust and place his trust in."

He began a fear of flying service for nervous passengers last year.

A Mytravel spokesman said: "We have a zero tolerance policy towards any actions which could endanger the safety of our passengers and employees."

A spokesman for Blackburn Rovers said: "The club and Robbie Savage sent a letter at the time to the airline authorities explaining our version of events."