DUDLEY boxer Darren McDermott admits he feels lucky to be alive after undergoing emergency brain surgery.

The popular 32-year-old is back home recovering after being discharged from Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Sunday.

McDermott was in training for a shot at British super middleweight champion Paul Smith next month but began complaining of headaches and took himself to hospital.

Tests revealed bleeding on the brain, while doctors also treated an aneurysm during lengthy surgery which will almost certainly spell the end of his boxing career.

The dad-of-two is now expected to make a full recovery and paid tribute to the hospital’s medical staff.

He said: “I take my hat off to them, they were fantastic.

“They caught it just at the right time and treated it quickly.

“Fingers crossed I should now make a full recovery. I’ve been told to just chill out and relax and I’ll still have to go back for appointments at the QE.

“I already feel a hundred times better than I did last week.

“Obviously I’ll probably never box again and that is disappointing.

“With the Smith fight coming up I thought it was my chance to get into the big time.

“But these things happen for a reason and I feel very lucky.

“If I hadn’t had the headaches the problem would have got worse and maybe I wouldn’t be here now.”

McDermott revealed he had received messages of support from across the boxing community and from fighters including Smith and Birmingham’s Matthew Macklin.

Nicknamed the Black Country Bodysnatcher, Macca won plenty of admirers for his attacking style during his 20 fight career.

He won the English middleweight title by beating Steve Bendall in February last year but his two defeats came in his biggest fights.

First there was a controversial cut eye stoppage against Birmingham’s Wayne Elcock in a British middleweight title fight in 2008, before he was stopped by Darren Barker in four rounds in a Commonwealth title fight last May. The Smith fight would have been his first fight since stepping up from middleweight.

McDermott is determined to stay involved in the sport and plans to open his own gym to train stars of the future. His younger brother Jason will make his professional debut later this year.

Macca added: “I want to give something back and help bring some new kids through.

“My brother is just starting out so I will concentrate my efforts on him.

“I think the sport has done a lot of good for me, it’s helped keep me on the straight and narrow and out of trouble.

“There are a lot more kids who would benefit from being involved in it and the discipline you learn.”