Derry man blinded in attack after Old Firm game to be special guest of Celtic
A Celtic fan who was blinded in one eye when he was attacked after an Old Firm game has been invited by Brendan Rodgers to be a special guest of the Glasgow club.
Derry man Charlie Phelan (48) said he was "overwhelmed" by the invitation.
Mr Phelan, who is from the Bogside, suffered a catalogue of injuries including a fractures to his cheekbone, eye socket and nose as well as broken fingers in the attack.
He was among a group of Celtic supporters who stopped off for refreshments at Girvan on their way back to the ferry following the Celtic-Rangers game at the beginning of September.
As he emerged from a fast-food outlet wearing a Celtic top and scarf, he was beaten unconscious.
Doctors who treated him believe his attacker may have used a knuckleduster given the extent of his facial injuries.
It is understood that Scottish police are investigating claims that those who carried out the attack were supporters of a Scottish loyalist flute band returning from a band march in Northern Ireland.
However, police said they were not treating the attack as sectarian or football related.
A life-long Celtic fan, Mr Phelan has now been invited to be a special guest of the Glasgow club.
He revealed the invitation came from Celtic manager, Co Antrim-born Brendan Rodgers who contacted him last week.
He told the Irish News: “He said he was disgusted with what happened and he hoped it would not put me off going back to the games.”
Mr Phelan said he and his partner Sinead Archbold have been asked to attend a future game of their choice with the club covering all costs.
“But it won’t be in the near future; it’ll be after Christmas because I want this all to heal up a bit before we go over,” he said.
The attack victim said he was contacted by a Celtic supporters’ club from Ballymena who told him to expect a call from the club manager.
Mr Rodgers told him that everyone at Celtic had heard what happened and were upset by the attack.
“I was overwhelmed by the call and the invitation; I couldn’t get over it.”
Almost a month on from the attack, Mr Phelan said he was still experiencing “terrible headaches” while his hand and arm remain in plaster cast.
“They’re letting the cheekbone heal naturally now and I’m to get the plaster off in two weeks’ time. The sight in the eye’s gone; sometimes I get wee flashes of light but that’s it and I’m getting terrible headaches,” he said.
Mr Phelan said Scottish police have not been in contact with him since he returned to Derry although he understood they were liaising with the Celtic Trust.