The devastated wife of a dad-of-three who died five years after he was left brain damaged by a group of football hooligans has paid an emotional tribute.
Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin, who featured on BBC’s home improvement show DIY SOS, died on Wednesday morning, the football club confirmed.
Now his wife Nicole, who was also his full-time carer, has spoken out saying her husband’s heart “just gave up”.
She spoke as thousands of supportive messages and condolences were written on social media.
Nicole paid tribute to her ‘funny’ and unforgettable husband, and has called once again for justice.
She said she hopes the news gets to Simon’s attackers and ‘plays on their heart strings’.
Speaking to Cambridgeshire Live, Nicole said: “He was absolutely fine yesterday.
“He was laughing and messing around being a dead weight while I was trying to put a pillow under him.
“He was laughing at me when I couldn’t do it.
“He was still for the night and I came down this morning as the alarm went off so I came and turned the machine off and then came back and that’s when he had gone.”
Mr Dobbin was attacked in March 2015 after a football game between Southend United and his beloved Cambridge United.
He had been left unable to walk or talk after his head was stamped on in the 90 second unprovoked attack by some of the thugs who acted like a “pack of animals”.
Thirteen men were convicted following the savage attack.
Nicole hopes that the death of her husband will get back to his attackers whose callous actions in those 90 seconds on that fateful day changed Simon and his family’s lives forever.
“I hope that this news gets out to them and plays on their heart strings,” she said.
“It’s been difficult. I have had a lot of support from friends and family but to know that they [the attackers] are all out now, it’s like they got on with their lives and get to forget about Simon and not give him thought.
“They left us with the aftermath of this. Just looking at him you would think about it and visualise them stamping on his head for 90 seconds.
“They didn’t just destroy Simon’s life, but they destroyed our lives as well.
“I lost the man I married. He was trapped in that body and suffered many health issues.”
The death has devastated Simon’s daughter Emily, who adored her father, Nicole said.
Emily had come back home from her placement with the London Ambulance Service, so was there when her dad passed away.
“She was here to be able to see her dad,” she said. “It’s obviously destroyed her, she was very much a daddy’s girl.
“One time, she had a house party and I went crazy but he bought her a Liverpool t-shirt and I thought ‘you are rewarding her?’
“But that’s just who he was.
“From a baby, there are photos of her in her dad’s arms both with shaving foam on their faces because she wanted to do whatever her dad did.”
Nicole hopes that Simon will never be forgotten for the fun and bubbly man he was.
“He was the life and soul of the party, he made friends with everyone and was always bantering all the time,” she said.
“He was just a funny, loving guy.
“It is just the funny little things that made us laugh that I will always remember about him.”
Twenty-five men reportedly set upon him on the night of the attack, Essex Live reports.
Of that group, nine were convicted for violent disorder on July 17, 2017.
A further three men were convicted at the same trial for conspiracy to commit violent disorder and one other man was convicted of assisting an offender and admitted possessing a pepper spray.
Since the trial however, 10 of the men have been released from prison.