An amateur footballer is awaiting facial reconstruction after being repeatedly kicked and beaten as he lay unconscious after an attack during a night out.
Richie Robins, first team goalkeeper for non-league Wivenhoe Town FC and former Colchester United youth team player, stepped in to protect a woman when he was set upon by half a dozen men.
The 21-year-old University of East London student was punched and knocked unconscious but the attack continued as he lay on the ground, Essex Police said.
Mr Robins, who was on a night out but had not been drinking as he had a match the next day, said he had suffered short-term damage to his eyesight which is likely to stop him playing football for the rest of the season.
He had recently been offered work with a modelling agency which he will now be unable to take up and he is worried his studies on a sports development course will suffer.
“I saw the group inside a club earlier in the night, pushing a girl about because she didn’t want to dance with them,” he said. “I went over and told them to leave her alone and after a while it calmed down. Later in the night I left and was waiting for a friend outside.
“They came over again and one of them punched me. I don’t remember much after that because I hit my head on the pavement and was knocked out.
“People who were watching said they carried on kicking and punching me for quite a while as I lay on the ground.”
A group of three men helped Mr Robins to safety and called an ambulance. He remembers waking up at Colchester General Hospital but not how he got there.
“I’ll find out on Monday what surgery I need but I’m counting my luck that it wasn’t worse and I didn’t end up with brain damage or something.
A 19-year-old man from Colchester was arrested and bailed over the incident.