BY DARREN JOHNSTONE @CCP_Sport
Big-hearted former Hearts defender Jose Goncalves has helped make a courageous young Celtic fan smile this Christmas after paying for a £3,500 state-of-the-art garden hut.
Twelve-year-old Adam Cusack overcame meningitis at the age of three but now suffers from sever epilepsy and can experience as many as five seizures a day.
With his condition having to be closely monitored, Edinburgh-based Adam has missed out on simple things like trips to the park with his mates.
But Goncalves, who became best friends with Adam’s dad when Frankie used to wash the Hearts’ players cars, helped fund what has effectively become a unique games room in the garden.
And Goncalves, who now plays in the MLS for New England Revolution after spending four-and-a-half years with the Jambos until 2010, was back in the capital on Monday to see the hut for the first time.
The 30-year-old has also handed over some of his jerseys, while Scotland rugby legend Gavin Hastings has donated sporting memorabilia to decorate the hut.
Goncalves said: “I know Frankie from my time at Hearts and since then we’ve become very good friends.
“We pretty much talk everyday during the week and we’re always texting.
“He’s a very good friend of mine. He is close to me, as are his family, his wife and his sons (Adam and Frankie junior, 15) They’re brilliant.
“I saw an opportunity to make a kid smile, someone I know very well and I didn’t hesitate to make this present.
“This isn’t something I have to think twice about. It’s something important to me and his family too.
“When something like this comes up, there’s no question I’m going to help out.
“Every time I come to Edinburgh it’s to see Frankie and his family and everytime I have some time off I always come back, I just love the city.
“I spent four-and-a-half years in Edinburgh and I had a great time.
“For me it’s one of the best cities. I really like to come back where the people were really nice to me.”
Proud dad Frankie is thrilled that Adam, who has raised over £80,000 for the Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital, has somewhere to have fun, with the hut kitted out with it’s own heating system, internet access, a projector and a X-Box games console.
Frankie, a Celtic fan initially from Glagsow, said: “When Adam was three-and-a-half he contracted meningitis.
“He was in a coma for two weeks and when he came out of the coma he was paralysed down one side of his body completely and he lost a bit of his eyesight.
“Latterly, he’s fully mobile again because your brain will remap itself but he has become severely epileptic.
“He had five seizures on Sunday alone, three when Jose was with us and five the day before that as well.
“What happens in a situation like that is that he can never be left alone and can’t be too far away from home.
“I was talking to Jose about it one night and he said, ‘what about we make somewhere safe for him’.
“And Jose being the kind guy that he is, said he would take care of everything.
“Adam is over the moon about it, it’s somewhere for him, his brother and his friends to hang out.”