Manchester United legend Denis Irwin meets British expat bashed in one-punch attack in Perth

A young British expat whose promising football career was cut short by a sickening and unprovoked attack has met one of his childhood sporting heroes.

Danny Hodgson spent weeks in a coma fighting for his life after being attacked from behind and knocked unconscious outside Perth train station last September.

The 26-year-old spent seven months in hospital and still faces an uncertain future as he continues on his long road to recovery.

Danny Hodgson and his family met one of his lifelong heroes, Manchester United legend Denis Irwin, in Perth last week

English Premier League heavyweights Manchester United have stood behind the lifelong supporter since the life-changing incident with heartfelt video messages from superstar Christian Ronaldo and goalkeeper Dean Henderson, a childhood friend of Hodgson.

Hodgson’s reaction was priceless when he met Manchester United icon and childhood hero Denis Irwin at Optus Stadium last week.

The Red Devils legend signed shirts and posed with Hodgson and his family before having lunch together.

Irwin won 19 trophies with Manchester United, including the famous continental treble in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in 1998-1999.

Denis Irwin (second from left) sat down to lunch with Danny Hodgson (right), his family and his girlfriend Jess (second from right)

Denis Irwin (second from left) sat down to lunch with Danny Hodgson (right), his family and his girlfriend Jess (second from right)

Mr Hodgson’s father Peter revealed that neither he nor Danny was unable to sleep the night before meeting the Irish legend.

“We couldn’t sleep much, it’s like getting up on Christmas morning and meeting Denis,” he told Seven News.

“Meeting a legend like Denis is incredible. We are over the moon.”

His son added: “I never thought I would meet a high-level player. It is a pleasure to meet and speak to Denis.”

Danny Hodgson faces an uncertain future after a one-punch attack seven months ago.  He is pictured with girlfriend Jessica before the attack

Danny Hodgson faces an uncertain future after a one-punch attack seven months ago. He is pictured with girlfriend Jessica before the attack

Irwin was in Australia to meet Australian fans ahead of Manchester United’s blockbuster clash with Aston Villa on July 23 in Perth.

Irwin invited Mr. Hodgson and his family to attend the game and meet the team.

“It’s a miracle to finally meet everyone,” said Mr. Hodgson’s friend Jess Pollock.

Nicola Hodgson couldn’t be prouder of how far her son has come in the last seven months.

“Meeting and having lunch with the legend Dennis Irwin what an honor for a lifelong fan,” she wrote after meeting last week.

“Not long before he can meet his childhood friend Dean Henderson, his idol Christano Ronaldo and the rest of the Man United team.

“Thank you again WA, Man United, Optus Stadium for giving Danny more motivation to get well soon.”

Mr Hodgson’s attacker was recently sentenced to three years and eight months in juvenile detention.

His family recently shared footage of Danny Hodgson (pictured) kicking a football again, seven months after a punching attack left his struggle for life

His family recently shared footage of Danny Hodgson (pictured) kicking a football again, seven months after a punching attack left his struggle for life

Footage of the moment that changed Mr Hodgson’s life forever was released by the court last month after the teenager’s conviction.

In the vision, the then 16-year-old teenager can be seen conversing with a drunk Mr. Hodgson, who was on his way home after the end-of-season celebrations.

The couple can be seen together as Mr. Hodgson tries to shake the teenager’s hand.

But moments later, the teenager clenched his fist before punching Mr Hodgson, knocking him to the ground where he hit his head and was knocked unconscious.

Judge Hylton Quail described him as a participant in “seven months of chaos” after moving to Perth having once been a kid who never got into trouble.

The court heard he was under a 24-hour curfew at the time of the attack.

“I was shocked by how Danny hit the ground and how someone just ran away and left him behind,” his mother Nicola told reporters after the sentencing.

His father added: “He (the teenager) shouldn’t have been on the streets, he had so many cases against him that he shouldn’t have walked and committed crimes all the time.

After the attack, the couple flew from all over the world to be by their son’s side and have not left Australia since.

Ms Hodgson has regularly shared updates on her son’s recovery journey on Facebook.

Nicola posted both pictures and video clips of Danny passing the ball to his dad while being supported by his partner Jessica and sister Abby.

He spent weeks in an induced coma after being rushed to Royal Perth Hospital with serious head injuries and undergoing emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage and skull fracture.

Danny's family (pictured) remains in Perth, seven months after they flew from the other end of the world to be by his hospital bedside as he fights for his life.  Danny is pictured on the far left before the attack

Danny’s family (pictured) remains in Perth, seven months after they flew from the other end of the world to be by his hospital bedside as he fights for his life. Danny is pictured on the far left before the attack

The personal trainer, originally from Cumbria in north-west England, subsequently suffered a severe brain haemorrhage which required further surgery and spent three months in intensive care.

Mr Hodgson was a talented striker who represented Great Britain at international level before moving to Australia aged 18 to further his football career.

He played for ECU Joondalup in the National Premier League in Western Australia, where he won a Premiership and the Golden Boot Award for top scorer in 2020.

His mother recently recalled how the “unimaginable act of violence irrevocably changed her son’s future.”

Former promising football star Danny Hodgson (pictured right) was walking home after a night out with team-mates when he was attacked from behind

Former promising football star Danny Hodgson (pictured right) was walking home after a night out with team-mates when he was attacked from behind

“Danny continues to amaze us every day and we are in awe of his courage and determination,” she wrote.

“But make no mistake. His recovery is slow, painful, and emotionally and physically taxing.

For every small advance that brings tears of joy to all of us, there are struggles and setbacks that bring tears of sorrow.”

“It’s heartbreaking to think about everything Danny has lost and we have no way of knowing if he will ever walk again, let alone run onto a football pitch and score a goal or even keep a job.”

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