Thursday 21 November 2019

'We're delighted to welcome him back to Anfield' - Sean Cox to attend first Liverpool match since attack

Sean Cox and family members
Sean Cox and family members
Sean Cox in the stands alongside Sir Kenny Dalglish (Brian Lawless/PA)
The two teams and mascots line up prior to the Sean Cox Fundraiser match between the Republic of Ireland XI and Liverpool FC Legends at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Liverpool fan Sean Cox is to fulfil his dream of returning to Anfield on Sunday for the first time since sustaining a serious brain injury when he was violently assaulted on his way to a match in 2018.

The 54-year-old suffered major head trauma when he was struck in a random assault by a masked AS Roma supporter outside Liverpool’s stadium in April 2018.

The former director of an electrical company, from Dunboyne, Co Meath, will mark a milestone this weekend when his family accompany him to Anfield.

Sean, whose family will be hosted by the club for the top-of-the-table clash with Manchester City, recently moved to a specialist neurological facility in the north of England for a 12-week rehabilitation programme, focused on developing his speech and movement, after 18 months of treatment in Ireland.

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Sean Cox
Sean Cox

“We’re delighted to welcome Sean and his family back to Anfield,” said CEO of Liverpool Football Club Peter Moore.

“I am sure it will be an emotional return for the family; however, the club has worked closely with the Cox family to ensure that their visit is made as easy as possible, and that they are given all the space and comfort that they need.

“The way that our fans have supported Sean and the Cox family is a testament to their commitment to the LFC family, and we know this will be the case again on Sunday,” he said

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, Ms Cox told Pat Kenny it will be a trip that's "emotional and a little bit bittersweet".

"We're getting him there, and that's a really positive thing for him - I think it will be great for him," she said.

"Liverpool have been amazing, and they've really come on board. Obviously they had the charity game in the Aviva... so I reckon they'll be pulling out all the stops for Sean.

Martina Cox, wife of Sean Cox, accepts a cheque from Liverpool FC.
Martina Cox, wife of Sean Cox, accepts a cheque from Liverpool FC.

"It will give him a boost, I think, on Sunday," she said.

Ms Cox also described Sean's current condition and the progress he's made since he first start rehabilitation.

"Obviously we've been in Sheffield since the beginning of September. He's on a 12-14 week programme.

"Seán needs a serious amount of rehab, and it's to improve him... for a better quality of life.

The fundraising match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
The fundraising match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

"We don't really know the final outcome, how things are going to pan out... but we're there just to make things better for him."

The devoted mother and wife explained there was "nothing after" that available for him in Ireland after he finished his treatment at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire

"You get your programme in the NRH, and you get your time - and then that's it, you're done.

"Unfortunately for Seán, he needs so much more rehab - so that's why we had to reach out and see what we could do.

"Other than that, Seán would just be in a nursing home - and we just weren't having that, so that's why we did all the fundraising."

While Seán has made significant progress, his wife was eager to stress that there's a life-time of therapy and treatment ahead for him

"When he arrived in Beaumont, he was on a peg feed... he wasn't eating or drinking. He's now fully eating and drinking. He has a lot more movement, particularly on his left side, than he did have even from when he's come to Sheffield

"He's not walking, but they're doing an awful lot more work to get him standing, which is huge.

"When somebody's in a wheelchair, they still have to have a huge level of mobility... and that's what they're trying to do with Seán, to increase his level of mobility for him," she said.

In April this year, a Liverpool legends charity match in Dublin raised more than €700,000 for the Sean Cox Rehabilitation Trust.

Nearly 27,000 fans attended the game at the Aviva Stadium in April which saw a Liverpool legends side take on a Republic of Ireland 11.

In February, Italian national Simone Mastrelli (30) was jailed for three-and-a-half years for the assault of Cox outside Anfield ahead of a Champions League tie between Liverpool and Roma last April.

Another Roma fan, Filippo Lombardi (21) was cleared of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Cox in October, though he was jailed for three years for violent disorder.

A third man, Daniele Sciusco, 29, from Rome, admitted violent disorder ahead of the match and was jailed for two-and-a-half years in August 2018.

Additional reporting from Press Association

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