Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.02 6 Nov 2019


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Liverpool fan Seán Cox is to return to Anfield this weekend - 18 months after he was seriously injured in a brutal assault near the stadium.

The father of three from Dunboyne in Co Meath was attacked outside the stadium in April 2018.

The assault happened ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against AS Roma.

Seán has spent the past year in a half undergoing intensive rehabilitation and therapy, and has been based in a centre in Sheffield since September.

This coming Sunday, the Cox family will travel to Liverpool for the team's crucial Premier League match against Manchester City.

Speaking exclusively to Newstalk this morning, Seán's wife Martina told Pat Kenny it will be a trip that's "emotional and a little bit bittersweet".

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

"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 Seán.

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

A general view of a warm up top prior to the Sean Cox Fundraising match at The Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

'Serious amount of rehab'

Martina also described Seán's current condition and the progress he's made since he first start rehabilitation.

She told Pat: "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.

"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."

Seán had previously been receiving treatment at the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Dun Laoghaire, and Martina explained there was "nothing after" that available for him in Ireland.

She noted: "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."

Martina is currently in Sheffield 'essentially all the time', while the couple's three children and other family members also visit Seán.

She believes it's 'hugely beneficial' for Seán for her to be in Sheffield on a full-time basis.

She suggested: "He can see it, and even with his family coming over... just encouraging him every step of the way."

Seán's progress

Cox Sean Cox posted a thank you to supporters ahead of the charity fundraiser earlier this year

Seán himself has made significant progress, although Martina is eager to stress that there's a life-time of therapy and treatment ahead for her husband.

She explained: "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."

Meanwhile, Seán has also been undergoing therapy in relation to speech.

Martina said that while Seán's speech is still slow, the team in Sheffield have been using "phrases to music" to encourage him to sing and repeat key phrases he needs to use.

'The idea is to get Seán home'

The Cox house in Ireland is currently being renovated to allow Seán to ultimately return home.

Martina explained: "This is with us for life for Seán - he's going to need rehab. The whole idea is to get Seán home, and our house is currently getting renovated for that.

"The whole idea is to have the services brought to Seán in the home - he'll have physio, speech and language and occupational therapy.

"He will still need a 'top-up', whether it's Sheffield or whatever, for intensive rehab - and that will be ongoing."

She stressed that the family still don't know what the long-term picture for Seán is like.

She told Pat: "We're in a marathon for Seán, and it's for life really. We'd love to think that there will be lots of improvements, but we just have to wait and see.

"I take everything that he's doing that's new and that's good as a positive - you just take that on-board."

One Italian man has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Cox, with Martina suggesting the "sentence didn't fit the crime".

However, she added: "That's the system... that's just the way it is. We don't really dwell on it to be very honest - if you go there, you kinda go into a dark place, and you don't want to do that.

"It's about going forward, and being as positive as possible for Seán."

Main image: Sean Cox watches from the stands during the Sean Cox fundraising match at The Aviva Stadium, Dublin in April. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

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