DENNIS VIOLLET: News Of The World Article (Part 1 of 3)

Headline: News of the World exclusive

Dennis has a tumour on the right side of his brain -
- in exactly the same place as his Munich head injury:

DENNIS VIOLLET 1933 - 1999 Dennis Passed away: 6th March 1999

Dennis Viollet slowly approached the steps to board the plane that would take him on a heart rending pilgrimage to the scene of the Munich air disaster.

The former Busby Babe, who once thrilled the nation with his exhilerating skills, wanted to return to the site where, 39 years earlier, some of the country's greatest footballers - his team mates - tragically perished in the mangled wreckage of a BEA Elizabethan airliner.

The memories of that horrible night were still sharply focused in his mind: the atrocious weather as the plane tried to take off from Munich airport, the scenes of mayhem as it shattered on the ground, ripping itself and Manchester United apart.

This was going to be an emotional journey for the 64-year old Viollet - and, by cruel twist of fate, it was to be another journey into hell.

For Viollet - a brilliant inside-forward who scored 159 league goals in only 259 appearances for United between 1953 and 1961 - had no idea that he was about to face his SECOND fight for life.

Talking exclusivly to the News of the World from Florida, which has been their home for 24 years, Helen Viollet spoke openly for the first time about her husband's incredible and courageous battle against a potentially fatal brain tumour and a haematoma which has left him paralysed down one side.

As Viollet struggles to regain the use of his body. Helen his beloved wife of 28 years, proudly says:

"He managed to watch the first half of United's recent game against Juventus. Just a week before, he couldn't even see to watch TV."

"His wonderful sense of humour is startling to show again and he has even had brief conversations with his old footballing pals, such as Bobby Charlton and Denis Law."

"There is an improvement and we are all just hoping. It has been terrible - absolutley heartbreaking. You'll never know how I've cried at times."

The Viollet family moved to the United States in 1973 as Dennis, who won back-to-back Championship medals with United in 1956 and 1957, took up a coaching post.

Daughter Rachel showed great talent at tennis and was junior Nr 1 in Florida and ranked in the world's top 50 at under-18 level a decade ago. She has also represented Lancashire and played in the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

But brave Helen noticed something with Dennis in February 97. She recalls:

"He first complained of 'deja vu' sensations, dizzy spells and a sweet smell. It frightened him, but they passed over."

"I told him he had to go to the doctor, but things are dreadful in America. The first thing they ask when you go to the hospital is what your insurance cover is, not 'How ill are you?'"

Things took a tragic turn for the worse in May 97 as Dennis, now soccer coach at Jacksonville University, flew to pay tribute to the 21 victims of the Munich diaster.

to be continued.......

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