Attack survivor to play for England

PUBLISHED: 15:02 05 August 2010

A promising footballer who nearly died after a savage holiday attack has been chosen to play for his country, just days after the five men wanted for his assault failed to prevent their extradition to Greece.

Rob Hughes, 29, played for Bromley and Welling football clubs before a brutal attack in Malia, Crete, in June 2008 left him fighting for his life.

After trials at the Lilleshall Hall National Sports Centre in Shropshire, with the Football Association at the weekend, Rob has been selected to play for the England cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury football team, taking part in his first tournament in Toryglen, Scotland, from August 17 to 28.

His mother Margaret, 56, said: “Rob is absolutely over the moon. To go from having four major brain operations to playing for your country is just amazing, it is brilliant. I am so proud of his efforts.”

Doctors in Greece called Mr Hughes a ‘miracle man’ after he recovered from his injuries he received when four men stamped on him and bottled him around the head causing brain damage.

His mother added: “As a family we never thought we’d be bringing him home alive, let alone him playing for England.

“He would lie in his hospital bed and all he kept saying was ‘I’m going to play football again, I am going to play football again’, but we thought there is no way he would.

“Robbie is an inspiration to anyone who that is trying to recover from something.”

Five men wanted for his attack have failed in their final attempt to avoid extradition to stand trial in Greece.

Curtis Taylor, 20, Daniel Bell, 21, and Sean Branton, 20, all from Horley, Surrey; Benjamin Herdman, 20, from Worth, West Sussex and George Hollands, 22, from Reigate, Surrey had their final appeal against extradition turned down at Britain’s highest court, the Supreme Court, on July 27.

Judge Sir Anthony May said: “The court has carefully considered that application, but has decided to refuse to certify,”

At the previous hearing, lawyers said the five could face months, possibly years, in a “disgusting” Greek jail without charge and that to extradite them would amount to a flagrant violation of their Human Rights.

Mrs Hughes said: “I can only say that it is in the hands of the Greek authorities now.”

The accused deny being involved.

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