AS football memorabilia goes, Robin Blacklock’s haul takes some beating.
He has managed to collect donations from some of the greatest names ever to grace the football pitch as part of a charity drive which has taken him across Europe. And the whole glittering collection is now set for auction to enable him to hit an incredible £100,000 fundraising target.
Tonight’s event follows a high-profile charity mission – the Euro Champs Challenge – which saw Robin, from East Lothian, visit the grounds of every European Cup-winning team.
Names including Eusebio, Michel Platini, Lionel Messi, and Kenny Dalglish lined up to donate signed items during the 36-year-old’s tour of 27 grounds.
He embarked on the challenge to thank health staff who treated his seven-year-old son Angus, who was born with one ear due to a condition called microtia, which also causes speaking difficulties.
“It was a fantastic experience, and it was much more than just jumping in the car and driving round different stadiums,” said Robin, a chartered surveyor from Aberlady.
“We began planning it last year to get the clubs on board.”
And the preparation paid off, with all 27 teams – including Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan and Bayern Munich – having former players and officials waiting to meet them on arrival.
“I couldn’t say I had a favourite,” he said. “When I look at the full list of footballers on paper it’s hard to believe we’ve either met them or they’ve agreed to sign goods for the cause.
“When we went to Real Madrid we weren’t just treated like VIPs, we were VIPs. They gave us all access and even featured us in the club television station. We were pleasantly surprised because they must get so many requests and can’t deal with them all, but then they are the most decorated club in European football and central to what we were trying to do.
“Meeting Eusebio was also special. Names like that are timeless.”
Money raised will go both to the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh, where Angus has received treatment, and the charity Changing Faces, which supports people with disfigurements.
It is understood more than two-thirds of the target total has been raised, and with tonight’s dinner in the Capital a sell-out, it is hoped significant progress can be made towards the £100,000 mark.
Mr Blacklock added: “We’ve given ourselves the best possible chance of hitting the target. Either way it will be put to great use by the hospital and the charity.”
To donate to the organisation, visit www.eurochampschallenge