'I can't remember how many stab wounds': Dublin star Cooper opens up about 2014 assault

'I can't remember how many stab wounds': Dublin star Cooper opens up about 2014 assault
Picture: Sportsfile

Dublin football star Jonny Cooper has opened up about being assaulted in 2014.

The All-Ireland winning defender received nine stab wounds to his forehead, eyelid and neck area and spent one night in hospital, in a "frenzied and unprovoked attack".

The attacker, Mark Lavelle, was jailed for five years in 2015.

Today, Cooper appeared on the Jennifer Zamparelli show on 2FM, opening up about the attack and how it affected him.

Cooper explained: "I was out socialising with my club friends because we had a game with our club that night.

"Coming home from the night out, I guess I was just attacked.

"I was robbed obviously and my stuff was taken but I was attacked at the same time.

"I can't remember how many stab wounds [there were], I actually never fully asked. I think it's 11 or 13 or something like that, on my neck and eyes and ear."

Cooper said it was "one of those bizarre [incidents], kind of world changes within two, three, four hours".

"You're coming back to reality that morning and the place in terms of exposure and people contacting ya and papers and media and Crimecall and everything else.

"You kind of go from one extreme to the other. Out socialising having great craic with the lads and then all of sudden it's upside down and turned around in many different ways."

Picture: Sportsfile
Picture: Sportsfile

Cooper said that "in a strange way" he's grateful that it happened as it helped give him a "sense of perspective".

"It made me realise, I guess, the important things and who's important and what's important," said the defender.

"I guess at the time playing for Dublin...we all have egos but it certainly kind of makes that a little bit bigger and from my position, where I was at the time I probably thought I was a little bit better and a little bit bigger."

Cooper said that in some ways he blamed himself for the incident.

"It was always my dream to play for Dublin," he said.

"I would have felt at that particular stage of my life I was getting a little bit too ahead of myself .

"And obviously it's not something you want to happen in terms of a lesson but at the same time it was such an important and a big lesson for me at the time."

"And it still is I guess because I always reflect and look back and say sometimes when you're getting up early in the morning or your training late at the evening or your making such a commitment to the GAA you're sometimes saying: 'Well hold on a minute, it could be very different.

Picture: Sportsfile
Picture: Sportsfile

"'You could have no sight in your eye and your hearing in one ear could be [gone] and you couldn't be able to play'. Again, it's all easy to say now but certainly it was a massive lesson."

Cooper said he still has "a bit of a fear" being out at night and alone.

Speaking about the attacker, Cooper said: "I don't know how I feel about him."

When asked if he could forgive him, Cooper replied, "I think so".

"I don't know what he was going through. I don't know exactly his circumstances but no doubt he has his own challenges that he maybe is finding difficult or found difficult at the time."

Cooper added that opening up about the incident helped him recover mentally from it.

He said he went to counselling following the attack saying it "added and helped" him.

You can listen to the full interview here:

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