Irish Liverpool fan in brutal attack thanks public for help
A Liverpool FC fan who suffered a serious brain injury in an attack by an Italian hooligan has spoken to the public for the first time since the assault.
Sean Cox (54) raised his thumb and said "thank you" in a short video to all those who have supported him and his family since his life-changing injuries last year.
The video, taken as Mr Cox continues his rehabilitation in hospital in Dun Laoghaire in the Republic, comes ahead of a high-profile benefit match for him in Dublin tonight.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to turn out to see Liverpool and Ireland stars of yesteryear play to raise funds for the care he will need for the rest of his life.
The video was posted on a Twitter account that promotes the fundraising efforts for Mr Cox's recovery.
An accompanying message read: "Bake sale, bag pack or bingo. If you are one of the thousands who organised/attended a fundraiser to #supportsean
"Sean Cox has this message for you x"
Mr Cox, a former company director from Dunboyne, Co Meath, suffered major head trauma when he was struck by a masked AS Roma supporter outside Anfield last April before a Champions League tie.
In February Simone Mastrelli (30) was jailed for three-and-a-half years after pleading guilty at Preston Crown Court to unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Father-of-three Mr Cox will mark a major milestone when his family accompany him to see tonight's charity match at the Aviva Stadium.
A Liverpool Legends team managed by Sir Kenny Dalglish and captained by Ian Rush will play an Irish Republic Legends side managed by international boss Mick McCarthy and captained by Robbie Keane, with proceeds to Mr Cox's rehabilitation fund.
He is being cared for at Ireland's National Rehabilitation Hospital.
His wife Martina (53) said tonight's game will be the first time her husband has been out in public since the attack.
"He regularly went to Anfield," she said. "For him Anfield would have been a very safe place, because there had never been any incidents before. But unfortunately that day there was.
"Down the line, when he's well enough, I would say Martin would love to get him there. I'm sure Liverpool Football Club would love to have him there, as he never got in that day."