An aspiring teenage rugby star has been left with “life-changing” injuries after being run over and beaten with a golf club in what police have described as a hate crime.
Littleborough RUFC player Matthew Hayden, 17, suffered serious injuries following the “unprovoked” and “brutal” attack by a gang of Asian men in Rochdale, Greater Manchester Police said.
The attack began when the car Hayden was riding in with two friends was hit by a black Nissan Micra at around 2am on Saturday, on Smithy Bridge Road in Littleborough.
When Hayden got out of the car, a black Vauxhall Corsa, the gang hit him with their vehicle before beating him with a golf club.
Hayden’s friend and fellow rugby player Josh Jones, who was driving the Corsa, was also injured when one of the attackers smashed his car window.
The gang were heard shouting racial abuse at the three boys before they fled towards Hollingworth Lake, officers said in a statement.
Teenager Hayden, who had been set to take up a rugby scholarship in America, was rushed to hospital, where he remains with “serious head injuries”.
His family said he is “devastated” he will no longer be able to go to the US, with his team fearing he may not be able to play his beloved sport for years.
Describing their son as a “caring young man”, Hayden’s family said: “He is always the first to help anybody in need.
“He was one of the first people onto the M62 to help the stranded people during the ‘Beast from the East’.
“He is loyal and caring and has a very gentle nature,” they added.
Police are now searching for “four or five Asian males, of thin build and aged between late teens and early twenties” in relation to the incident.
Detective Inspector Mark McDowall said: “This was an unprovoked attack that has left the victim with life changing injuries, so it’s vital that we find the people responsible for this horrendous incident.
“Even though this happened in the early hours of the morning, I’d urge anyone who heard or saw anything out of the ordinary on Smithy Bridge Road, or who saw the men in the black Nissan Micra at any time, to get in touch.”
Officers will be making extra patrols of the area while the investigation is underway, McDowall added.