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Team GB dream for footballer devastated by holiday violence

PUBLISHED: 11:03 29 July 2010 | UPDATED: 18:06 25 August 2010

A FOOTIE ace who nearly died during a brutal assault while on holiday could realise his dreams of playing for his country after being asked to try out for the Paralympic team.

A FOOTIE ace who nearly died during a brutal assault while on holiday could realise his dreams of playing for his country after being asked to try out for the Paralympic team.

Rob Hughes underwent four life-saving operations to his skull after being attacked by four men in Malia, Crete, in June 2008.

Greek doctors labelled him the 'Miracle Man' for surviving the horrific incident in which he was stamped on and bottled around the head causing brain damage.

Since then the 29-year-old, who signed a contract with Welling United last August, has undergone months of rehabilitation but he still suffers from fits, obsessive compulsive disorder, memory loss, tinnitus and has no sense of taste or smell.

His mother Margaret Hughes, said she was thrilled when he received a phone call from the Football Association's national football development manager for disability, Jeff Davis, who asked him to consider playing for the team.

The 56-year-old said: "He is off there this weekend to meet everybody and start training. Obviously he doesn't react to things in the same way I would but it's an absolute honour.

"It's exciting. It is definitely a step in the right direction.

"He will be there for the whole weekend. It is a chance to fulfil a dream, how many people can say they played for your country?"

Mr Hughes no longer plays for Welling United or Bromley Football Club, whom he was about to be signed to before the assault, in an official capacity but his mother said he would always be connected to Bromley in some way. She said Bromley FC manager and chairman Mark Goldberg had been an "absolute inspiration" in supporting Rob.

She said: "I doubt Robbie can play in a regular team which is very sad. But he always spoken of setting up a football school for kids and Mark Goldberg always tells him that he will succeed. Robbie is focused on the future now."

The former Crystal Palace FC youth player is due to travel to Lilleshall Hall in Shropshire tomorrow to begin his trials for the Paralympic team.

n Five men accused of carrying out the assault on Mr Hughes are currently appealing attempts by the Greek police to extradite them. Curtis Taylor, 20, Daniel Bell, 21, Sean Branton, 20, and George Hollands, 22, all from Surrey and Benjamin Herdman, 20, from Sussex, all deny any part in the assault.

Their bid against extradition failed in June but the case has now progressed to the Supreme Court.


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