Wivenhoe Town goalkeeper Richie Robins attacked while unconscious
An amateur footballer has been left needing facial reconstruction surgery after he was kicked and beaten as he lay unconscious following an attack by up to six men in Colchester.
Wivenhoe Town FC goalkeeper Richie Robins is thought to have been set upon after he tried to protect a woman.
The 21-year-old student was attacked outside Subway on Queen Street at about 03:30 GMT on Saturday.
He was out with friends after coming home from university for Christmas.
Essex Police said the former Colchester United youth team player had been punched and knocked out before the attack continued as he lay on the floor.
A spokesman said there had been about six attackers who were described as black and in their late teens and early 20s.
Officers arrested a 19-year-old man from Colchester in connection with the attack, who has since been released on police bail.
Det Con Seff Manesh said the force was "examining CCTV to establish what happened and who was involved".
"This student has sustained some very nasty-looking injuries which will affect him for the foreseeable future.
"We're looking to speak with those bystanders who saw what happened and what started the melee."
A spokesman for Wivenhoe FC, who play in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, said Mr Robins suffered "severe" injuries including fractures to his eye socket and cheek bones.
He added that the club "sends Richie their best wishes for a speedy recovery".