Tens of thousands attend fundraising match for injured Liverpool fan

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Tens of thousands attend fundraising match for injured Liverpool fan
Tens of thousands attend fundraising match for injured Liverpool fan

Tens of thousands of fans descended on the Aviva Stadium on Friday night to raise money for an injured football fan.

Liverpool FC supporter Sean Cox suffered a serious brain injury in an attack by an Italian hooligan last year.

The Legends For Sean Cox match, organised by his beloved Anfield side, saw Liverpool FC Legends take on a Republic of Ireland XI Legends team to raise money for The Sean Cox Rehabilitation Trust.

Sir Kenny Dalglish led a star-studded Liverpool team against Ireland stars of yesteryear, managed by current international boss Mick McCarthy, and featuring Robbie Keane, Sean St Ledger, Ray Houghton and a host of other big names.

Irish President Michael Higgins attended the game and met Mr Cox’s wife and children Jack, Shauna and Emma on the pitch, as thousands of fans sang Liverpool anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone.

A statement from Mr Cox’s wife Martina read: “The last 12 months have not been easy for us, but what has helped us get through this difficult journey has been the outpouring of support and genuine concern for Sean.

Martina Cox thanked Liverpool fans for their support (Brian Lawless/PA)

“For this we will always be thankful. We are filled with gratitude and feel truly blessed.

“A heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in this special day, it will stay with us for a very long time.”

Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was held for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, marking 30 years since the tragedy on Monday April 15.

Mr Cox, 54, from Co Meath, who continues his rehabilitation in Ireland’s National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, near Dublin, is a former company director from Dunboyne.

Former Liverpool players Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton pose for a photo (Brian Lawless/PA)

He suffered major head trauma when he was struck in a random assault by a masked AS Roma supporter outside Anfield last April ahead of 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.

The match on Friday night, attended by 26,873 people, was Mr Cox’s first time in public since the attack, and he watched the game from a private viewing box.

When an image of him was projected on to a screen, the crowds erupted in applause.

After the 2-1 win for Liverpool, former Anfield striker Robbie Fowler said he was delighted to take part in the special cause.

“It’s obviously a sad, sad moment, but moments like this get everyone together,” Fowler said.

“When Ireland and the club get together, and put together a spectacle like this with 27,000 people here, it’s not to support the Irish team, or Liverpool, it’s to support Sean Cox in what he’s going through.

“It’s moments like this that his family will know that they have immense support from everyone.”

Former Liverpool defender Phil Babb said the night had showed the good in people despite what happened to Mr Cox.

“It’s been an incredible and emotional night, I can’t thank fans enough,” he said.

“It’s a long road ahead for Sean, and it’s baby steps but he’s making them and any way the club can help him they will.

“It’s been fantastic, I”m glad we won against a younger side and I’m sure the lads will enjoy the Guinness tonight.”

Sean Cox in the stands alongside Sir Kenny Dalglish (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Cox will leave the facility in Dun Laoghaire in June, and will spend a number of months in a rehabilitation centre in the UK, with his family moving with him.

Funds raised by the game will go towards the care he will need for the rest of his life.

To find out more about Mr Cox’s journey, or make a donation, visit www.supportsean.com

– Press Association

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