Roma fans held as Irish dad critical after attack near Anfield
Two Roma fans have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a violent attack on a 53-year-old Irish father.
Sean Cox, from Dunboyne, Co Meath, remained in a critical condition in Walton Neurological Centre in Liverpool last night after an incident before Liverpool's Champions League tie with Roma on Tuesday evening.
Mr Cox, who is treasurer of his local GAA club St Peter's and well known in Dunboyne, was left fighting for his life after he was struck by a belt near the stadium.
It is understood that the attack was unprovoked, with witnesses saying a gang of about 20 Roma fans wielding belts attacked random Liverpool supporters outside the Albert pub beside the stadium.
Police confirmed that two men, aged 20 and 29, have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. They remain in custody where they are being questioned about the incident.
Seven other men were also arrested following the violence.
Cillian Morgan (22), a Co Down Liverpool supporter who now lives in the city, said he was in the area when the violence flared. "I didn't have a ticket for the match, but I went down to watch it in a local pub. There was a good atmosphere and we were approaching the ground when all of a sudden we saw fans running back towards us.
"The police waded in and started pulling out the Roma guys.
"They had their flick-sticks out and they were pulling them away and keeping them separated from the Liverpool fans.
"One guy told me he saw the Roma guys with hammers and knives. I couldn't believe it. "
Liverpool Football Club said it was "shocked and appalled" and urged those who attended the game to help the police.
Club captain Jordan Henderson said: "The thoughts and prayers of all the players are with the Liverpool fan who is currently very poorly in hospital, after being badly hurt ahead of our game last night.
"He came to watch a football match and support our team - the only result that matters to us now is that he recovers and can return home to be with his family and loved ones."
Midfielder Alex Oxlade Chamberlain said he was devastated to have picked up a knee injury in the match, thereby ending his role in the Champions' League and the World Cup.
However he said: "This all pales in comparison to how the family of the Liverpool fan...must be feeling ... "My thoughts are with him and his loved ones."
The Irish Independent understands the Liverpool squad will hang a Dunboyne GAA jersey in their dressing room during their game with Stoke this weekend.
Members of Mr Cox's family remained at his hospital bedside.
Speaking in Dunboyne, Ben Hannigan (19) said: "He was my GAA manager growing up and I've always known him as such a kind and generous man."