Messages of support have flooded social media for an Irish League footballer who remains in hospital with a fractured skull after being attacked in Belfast city centre.
Ards FC player Gary Warwick – a former Cliftonville reserve – was on a night out with friends on Saturday after a league game when he was assaulted outside Thompsons Garage.
It is understood Mr Warwick, who lives on the doorstep of Cliftonville’s Solitude ground in north Belfast, had just stepped out of the nightclub when he was assaulted in the early hours of Sunday.
Brian Adams, chairman of Ards FC, who has visited the 25-year-old in hospital, said: “Gary was with us on Saturday for a league game which we won (against Institute) and a couple of the boys went out for a celebration.
“They went to Thompsons and bumped into a few other players and a couple of Cliftonville lads as well.
“Then they were coming out of the club and he can’t remember a lot about it but a guy attacked him.”
Mr Adams added: “He went down outside Thompsons on the cobblestones.
“The guy who hit him broke his nose and then he fell backwards. One of our players called an ambulance but the police were there within seconds.
“The police were able to make an arrest and there is an investigation ongoing.”
Mr Adams said the player sustained a fractured skull and required 12 staples in the back of his head.
“I went up to see him and he wasn’t in good shape,” he added. “Everyone is wishing him all the best.
“Gary, or Gazza which is his nickname, is a very quiet fella. We just hope the police get the boy who did it to him.”
A PSNI spokesman said a 36-year-old male was arrested after an assault in the Pattersons Place area of Belfast during the early hours of Sunday April 24.
The spokesman said the man was interviewed and subsequently released on police bail pending further inquiries and a police investigation is continuing.
A spokeswoman for Belfast Trust said Mr Warwick was now “stable” in hospital.
In a post on Ards Football Club Facebook site, manager Niall Currie said: “We are all sickened to be honest. I would just like to say to this quality young man that all of us at Ards Football Club are thinking about him and I know I’ll be carrying the best wishes of all Ards supporters with me, when I visit him later today.
“While the matter is being investigated by police, the club would urge anyone who might have information to contact them on 101.”
Wellwishers posted comments including: “Hope you make a full and speedy recovery Gary and are back playing for Ards in the Premier league next season” and “Speedy recovery Gary hopefully get back playing soon”.
Another comment said: “This is awful news, best wishes from a Reds fan for Gary’s full recovery.”