Rene Collins's Las Vegas trip is a ‘lovely memory’ of daughter Julie meeting football star Eusebio

Footballers Eusebio, left, and Trevor Hockey with Julie Collins

Footballers Eusebio, left, and Trevor Hockey with Julie Collins

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Aire/Worth Valley Reporter

Football star Eusebio once took time to help Bradford teenage spina bifida victim Julie Collins when she visited Las Vegas in 1977 to see her idols the Osmonds.

He teamed up with Bradford City legend Trevor Hockey to look after 13-year-old Julie during her memorable visit.

The Portuguese star, who died last weekend aged 71 and Keighley-born Hockey, who died aged just 43, were both then playing for the Las Vegas Quicksilvers.

Julie was on a free trip to see the Osmonds courtesy of Rawdon showbiz journalist and publicist John Rimington, who had read about her in the Telegraph & Argus.

“I saw a piece saying how disappointed she was that a trip to see the Osmonds at Manchester had been cancelled and decided to help,” said Mr Rimington, then based in Las Vegas, where he worked with Elvis, Sinatra, Liberace and many others.

“I knew the Osmonds and sorted out for Julie to see their concert and go back stage where she even got a kiss from Donny,” he said.

During her ten day stay, Mr Rimington organised other events including the night Eusebio escorted wheelchair-bound Julie to the stage at the Aladdin Hotel to meet Muhammad Ali.

On learning of the Benefica and Portuguese soccer star’s death, Julie’s mother Rene said at her home in Wrose, Shipley: “Although my daughter didn’t know quite who, or how famous Eusebio was at the time, she later referred to him as ‘the nice man who looked after me so well when I met Mr Ali’.”

Sadly, Julie died from her illness in 1995 after six years of marriage, said Mrs Collins, 76.

“But I do have lots of lovely memories, especially of that trip to Las Vegas – and they can’t take those away from me,” she said.

Cult figure Hockey turned professional with Bradford City in May 1960 and went on to play for Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, Birmingham City and Sheffield City.

He would be seen driving around Keighley in a Triumph Herald Vitesse which he’d had covered in blue suede.

Hockey returned home in 1981 to reform Keighley Town and tried to break into the Northern Premier League. Tragically he died of a heart attack shortly after taking part in a five-a-side tournament in Keighley on April 2, 1987, aged 43.

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