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A West Ham fan, who was the victim of a vicious machete racist attack, suffered three seizures during the night, but still went drinking with his mates today.
John Payne, 51, of Stepney, suffered brain injuries in the attack by three Asian men who were jailed at the Old Bailey for attempted murder.
He has been medically retired since the attack and carries a huge scar on the back of his skull from the assault.
Mr Payne, who is married, suffered a seizure at Amsterdam Airport and two more followed at Prague airport and in his hotel.
His friend Neil Whitbread, a Lloyds underwriter said: ‘It has been pretty traumatic for him. I sat up all night to keep an eye on him. What a party that was.
John Payne (front row, left) was the victim of a machete racist attack in 2007
Payne has suffered three seizures in the last 24 hours, but still made it to the Old Square in Prague, and plans to attend tomorrow’s Europa Conference League final
‘But he is a top bloke and he is very much an important part of the West Ham group. We are glad he is here and happy to look out for him.’
Mr Payne said: ‘I couldn’t miss this final for the world.
‘West Ham haven’t been in a European final since 1976, so this could be my only chance.
‘I had three seizures in 24 hours and my health isn’t great.
‘I’m only having one or two beers and I’m going to take it easy after. But my mates are looking after me so everything seems okay.
‘I go to every West Ham match, Home and Away, and that’s why I’ve got myself a ticket here, to being a loyal supporter.
‘I can’t wait for tomorrow night, and I’m sure we’re going to bring the trophy home.’
Sodrul Islam, 23, Delwar Hussain, 21, and Mamoon Hussain, 20, were found guilty of attempted murder for the attack on Mr Payne in December 2007 and received lengthy jail terms.
West Ham fans took over bars in Prague’s historic Old Town Square, downing pint after pint of strong beer and singing.
West Ham fans have been drinking and singing in Prague’s Old Square ahead of the final
Singer Chesney Hawkes toured the Old Town Square and was serenaded by West Ham fans who sang his song ‘The One and Only’ at him and turned it into ‘You are the One and Only.’
He posed for pictures with fans in West Ham shirt and said: ‘It’s amazing to be here. There’s going to be thousands more. We are all part of the tribe, the West Ham Community.
‘Every time I go to West Ham they sing my name and shout ‘Chesney give us a wave!’
The singer,51, saw his popularity soar after he provided the half-time entertainment at a World Cup match in Qatar. West Ham captain Declan Rice, who was less than a year old when Hawkes first released his biggest hit, is known to be a fan and has posed for pictures with him.
Pop star and West Ham fan Chesney Hawkes (right) posed for pictures with supporters
Norman Galea, his wife Rita and daughter Naomi flew into Prague from their Malta home and they also follow West Ham weekly by travelling from their home.
Mr Galea said: ‘We have only been given one ticket, which I’m giving to Rita. Naomi and I see more football than her, although we all love West Ham. We will watch it in the fan zone.’
Jason Williams, 23, of Bromley, said: ‘We are not here to cause any trouble, only to have fun and drink loads of this great beer.
‘The icing on the cake will be when we take a cup home with us. I can’t wait for the open top bus parade with the players.
‘I hope they do it around Upton Park where the old ground was, rather than Stratford, where we play now.’
West Ham fan Norman Galea (centre) plans to watch the game in the fan zone with his daughter Naomi (right) after giving his ticket to his wife Rita (left)
The fans sang West Ham’s ‘bubbles’ song as well as songs in favour of defender Kurt Zouma who was prosecuted for kicking his cat.
A video of the star defender appeared on the internet and led to him being charged for which he received 180 hours of community service.
The fans sang: ‘Kurt Zouma. He’s no rapist… he only kicked a cat.’
Riot police were on standby in vans around the square but as the rain ended and the sun shone, there was little hint of trouble.