The footballer left for dead in a brutal attack has returned home and has one word for the thugs that left him with a fractured skull – “cowards”.

Robert Hughes, 28, said he was not afraid of the men that attacked him.

He said: “I’ve got nothing to be afraid of.”

Robert, who used to play for Sutton United and Croydon Athletic, has endured two life saving operations since the attack on June 17 in Malia, Crete.

At one time his family feared they would lose him or he would be disabled for the rest of his life.

Robert has no memories of the night and can only remember the last three weeks spent in hospital, but he does recall feeling that “it would go on forever’’.

He said: “It feels very strange looking at the photos of me in hospital.

“It makes me feel quite down. I don’t remember any of it.’’ His family however, who flew to be by his bedside since they heard of the attack, remember everything from the pits of despair as they fought to restrain Robert, who was on strong medication, as he pulled out a feeding tube from his throat and another draining excess fluid from his brain, to the overwhelming moments of hope as he showed signs of recovery from a coma.

His sister Alaina, 22, said: “We used to say to him just show us a sign, move your fingers or your toes - anything to show you can hear us.

“Then at one point, all of a sudden, from the waist down he starts moving - it looked like he was doing football training exercises.

“It was out of this world.’’ Robert smiles at the story and says simply: “I love football, what can I say.’’ Despite all he hears about the struggles his family have faced in fighting for justice he remains focused on one thing: getting better.

“I just want to get strong again. I want to start playing football professionally and teaching kids how to play - it’s going to be the Robert Hughes Soccer Club.’’ The former Fulham football youth team player also tells how great it feels to be home with his seven other siblings and how he is looking forward to a charity football match in his honour this Sunday at Bromley Football Club’s ground at Hayes Lane.

His mother Maggie, who is setting up a not-for-profit support group for families who find themselves in similar situations abroad, will be selling t-shirts with the slogan: Please enjoy, don’t destroy, at the event.

He said: “She’s so special, I love her so much and can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done.’’ After all her struggles caring for her son in a foreign land, Maggie too has one word on her mind.

She said: “I will not stop until the people responsible for this are brought to justice.

“That’s all I want: justice.’’