Irish man in critical condition following assault before Liverpool match

Two men from Rome have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder

Irish man in critical condition following assault before Liverpool match

A view of The Albert pub on Walton Breck Road after the UEFA Champions League at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture by: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 13.35

A 53-year-old Irish man remains in a critical condition in hospital after being attacked before a football match in Liverpool last night.

The incident happened shortly before kick-off in the Liverpool v Roma Champion's League semi-final.

At around 7.35pm, police were called after an Irish man was attacked outside the Albert pub.

Witnesses say the man - named as Sean Cox from Co Meath - was hit with a belt.

Paramedics who were called to treat the victim believe he suffered head injuries.

He was taken to Walton Neurological Centre for treatment, where his condition is described as critical.

53-year-old Irish football fan Sean Cox. Image: Facebook

Police arrested two men from Rome, aged 25 and 26 years, inside the stadium during the game on suspicion of attempted murder.

They have been taken to a local police station for questioning.

Today police are also examining CCTV and appealing for witnesses.

Merseyside Police Detective Inspector Paul Speight said: "The place where this incident occurred is right by the ground and was heaving with fans making their way to the game.

"I would appeal to anyone who has any information, or mobile phone footage of the incident to contact us urgently, as information they have could be vital to our investigation."

'Shocked and appalled'

Picture by: Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Sport

St Peter's GAA Club in Dunboyne said Mr Cox - who is believed to have travelled to Anfield with his brother - is a 'long serving and popular' member of their club.

They said: "At this point we hope that Sean is receiving all of the medical care he requires and that he makes a full and speedy recovery.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Sean and his family, and we hope that they get the privacy and space they need."

In a statement, Liverpool said: "Liverpool Football Club is shocked and appalled after a Liverpool supporter was left in a critical condition having been attacked prior to the Champions League fixture against AS Roma.

"Our thoughts, in the first instance, are with the victim and his family at this very traumatic time. We will be offering them our full support."

It adds that the club has been liaising with emergency services, and will continue to do so.

Roma said it "condemns in the strongest possible terms the abhorrent behavior of a small minority of traveling fans who brought shame on the club and the vast majority of Roma’s well-behaved supporters".

UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations), meanwhile, said it is "deeply shocked by the vile attack that occurred ahead of Liverpool FC v AS Roma & our thoughts are with the victim and his family."

The organisation said in a statement: "The perpetrators of this ignominious attack have no place in football and we trust they will be dealt with utmost severity by the authorities.

"UEFA is waiting to receive full reports before deciding on potential disciplinary charges."