The parents of a Brit almost killed in an unprovoked assault in Australia have described the moment they could finally see their son.
Danny Hodgson, 26, suffered a brain bleed after being attacked outside Perth railway station in the early hours of September 5, police said.
The talented football player – who plays for plays for ECU Joondalup – was allegedly punched on the way home from a match.
Originally from Cumbria, Danny had forged a life as a personal trainer Down Under before he was set upon.
He was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital with severe head injuries and underwent emergency surgery for bleeding to the brain and a skull fracture after the attack, reports say.
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Danny’s condition briefly improved this week and he opened his eyes, according to perthnow.
But he had to be sedated and placed back on a ventilator soon after, following a tracheotomy to protect his airway.
Danny’s parents, Nicola and Peter Hodgson, were granted an exemption to fly into Australia from Britain to see their son.
But, due to Covid restrictions, they had to see him from 1.5m away and wear full PPE – although they did touch his hand briefly.
Peter said: “Just to be able to touch him and hold him, hold his hand – it was beautiful.
“We know it’s going to be a very long road ahead. “But we’ll be with him, we’ll be by his side. Eventually…we know he’ll pull through.”
Peter added that although hearing his son had gone back on a ventilator was “difficult”, he and Nicola accepted it was to stop the situation worsening.
And the couple previously said they were “eternally grateful” to those who had made the visit to the hospital possible.
Danny had turned 26 last Sunday – which was marked by a special ‘get well’ message from football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Hi Danny, I just hear about your history, I hope you get well soon,” said the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. “I invite you to come to one of [our] games in Manchester, so get well soon my friend. Take care.”
Ronaldo’s United colleague Dean Henderson played with Hodgson earlier in his career at Carlisle.
He also issued a message to his former team-mate, saying: “Stay strong, stay in there, you’ll get through this, I promise. I know how hard you are and you’ll be fine.
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“I can’t wait to get you over to a [ Manchester United ] game and meet the boys. I’ve told them all about you and we’re all in your corner … we just wish you all the very best.”
A GoFundMe page has been launched to help Danny’s recovery, which has almost reached its goal.
To date, more than AUS$160,000 (£85,000) has been raised.
A boy, 15, has been charged over Danny’s alleged assault.