Marc McNulty has spoken for the first time about the assault in an Edinburgh nightclub which left him with a broken cheekbone - and fearing for his Sheffield United career.
The 22-year-old Scottish striker missed five games of United’s League One season after sustaining the injury while on a night out in his native Edinburgh.
After making his return - in a specially-fitted protective mask - McNulty scored the winner against Southampton in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup, which set up a last-four date with Tottenham Hotspur.
But in an interview with Scottish newspaper Sunday Mail, McNulty admitted that he feared his career at Bramall Lane may be over in the immediate aftermath of the altercation, which he insists occurred at a private function.
“After what I’ve been through in the last few weeks, it was great to have that feeling of elation after scoring the goal against Southampton,” the former Livingston man said.
“What happened up the road wasn’t great.
“Thankfully, I had good people around me and my agents Alan Houldsworth and Jim Sherry really looked after me.
“My family also helped get my head in the right place again. It was a tough time for me but the people who know me, at home and at the club, know what happened that night.”
McNulty added: “To get that goal against Saints was a real relief for me after a difficult spell. The incident shook me up but it could have happened to anyone; it could have been my dad or my brother who was attacked.
“I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“You read in the papers all the time about people being assaulted and I’m just another one of them. I was unlucky. But it has definitely made me more wary of where I can go and of the people around me.
“It has never happened to me before and when it does, it makes you think twice about where you’re going and who you’re going with.
“I was really worried after it about my future at Sheffield United. As soon as it happened, that was the first thing on my mind.
“I was concerned they might not believe I was the victim. They might have thought I was out partying but that wasn’t the case.
“I was at a private function. The police and the club know I was the innocent party which is really important to me.”
McNulty, who could make his 24th appearance in United colours on Boxing Day as Nigel Clough’s men travel to Port Vale, is the South Yorkshire side’s leading scorer in the league, with five goals.
“I’ve had a few starts and want to play every week,” he said.
“Of course it’s frustrating when you find yourself on the bench but I just need to be ready when called upon.
“I’ve scored eight [in all competitions] now which I don’t think is too bad for someone who hasn’t started every game.
“I’m progressing as a player and want that to continue. I’m still young and it’s my first season in English football.
“The game is different down here and it was always going to take me a bit of time to adapt.
“The manager is looking after me, that’s why he hasn’t just chucked me in every game.
“I’m only six months in and I’ve got a long way to go.”
Clough hinted that he may partner McNulty with Chris O’Grady at Vale Park: “I don’t want to give too much away,” said the Blades boss, “but we want to look at how Marc and Chris play together sooner rather than later.”