GAA STAR Jonny Cooper has been told he may be permanently disfigured following a vicious city centre knife attack.
The 24-year-old's sister has spoken of the family's "extreme shock" after receiving a call in the early hours of Saturday morning to tell them what had happened. Gardai are now studying footage from CCTV cameras to try and help them identify the man who carried out the horrific attack.
The incident took place as the popular Dublin defender made his way home following a night out at Copper Face Jacks nightclub on Harcourt Street.
Jules Cooper, said: "Jonny is extremely lucky and he's doing well. He's feeling okay. He is also quite a strong character and is in good form, considering what he went through.
"He was stabbed in his face and his neck so he's extremely lucky. He was told they won't know if he'll have permanent scars until his injuries heal. His training is low key at the moment, so he's not missing out on anything, but we hope he'll be back to full fitness."
She said only a "minimal" amount of money was taken, despite the frenzied nature of the attack.
"It was a major shock when we found out what had happened, but we're thankful because really it could have been a million times worse," she told the Irish Independent. "Jonny doesn't have a clue who the guy was, but we're hoping we'll hear something soon."
She said that while he was deeply shaken, his "mental strength" has helped him to remain positive.
"The fact is we don't know why he was attacked or what caused it," she added.
CCTV footage shows the footballer sitting on some steps in the north inner city with his assailant standing over him and rifling through his pockets. He was stabbed nine times and slashed across the face.
Mr Cooper had been on a night out with friends after his club, Na Fianna, had played in the Dublin championship on Friday night.
The victim's father, Brendan, warned that the attacker must be caught as he was likely to strike again. He told RTE radio that his son had no opportunity to run away or defend himself.
Investigating officers said a manhunt was under way across the capital as they were very concerned at the level of violence used in the vicious assault.
One officer said: "This is as bad as I have witnessed in my career. Although it was entirely unprovoked, the attacker was in a frenzy and slashed at Mr Cooper repeatedly with what appeared to be a small knife."