'One-punch attack' footballer Niall Grace only starting to understand how close he came to death
I just want to get back to the game, says Institute player
A Northern Ireland footballer left in a critical condition after a serious assault in the centre of Londonderry has spoken of how close he came to death.
Institute FC midfielder, Niall Grace, was left fighting for his life after an alleged 'one-punch attack' while on a night out in his native city in September.
The 24-year-old suffered serious head injuries and was placed in a medically induced coma after the Waterloo Street incident in the early hours of September 11.
He had to undergo major surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to relieve swelling and a clot on the brain.
Grace was back at Drumahoe over the weekend to watch his side's win over Lurgan Celtic.
The footballer told the BBC: "I think I'm still coming to grips with how serious it was, I just gather from my family how close I came.
"I'm starting to understand how lucky I am. People in Derry really do look out for each other, I got so many messages, and that kind of thing really took me back to be honest, its amazing."
Chairman Bill Anderson and Niall Grace celebrating our late winner today!— Institute F.C. (@Institute_FC) October 8, 2016
Great to have you back big man! pic.twitter.com/RzRyptnb4u
The footballer said he was eager to return to training and the game but was waiting on the green light from his doctors.
He added: "I just want to get back playing football. It's pretty frustrating for me but, again for my family and friends, I'm happy enough to wait because I know how scared they were for me.
"I'm feeling like myself and each day it seems to be getting better but I'm just glad to be out and about watching a bit of football.
"I just can't wait to get back to playing football, get back to fitness and back to where I was. That's the ultimate goal."