Antonio Conte and the Chelsea squad surprised children and their families at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital penultimate Wednesday afternoon.
The players spread festive cheer with the visit, delivering presents for the kids, posing for pictures and signing autographs around the wards.
Sadly, some of the children were in hospital over Christmas and so the Blues popped in following the morning’s training session at Stamford Bridge. The annual visit to the Chelsea and Westminster, just along the Fulham Road, is a significant one for the players.
‘Each year we come and it is important for us as players to do this and to see the kids,’ said Cesar Azpilicueta to Chelsea FC official website.
‘I am a parent myself and I know how special this time is. Christmas is normally a very happy time but for these kids and their families it is very difficult so it is nice for us to come here, give them presents and to spend time with them. It is also nice for us to be able to do this and to make people’s day nicer.’
One young admirer of the Spanish international was Hannah Pollock, who was delighted to meet the players and receive a selfie stick.
‘She has had some issues with her tummy and has go to start a diet of a milky drink for the next six weeks which will get her better,’ her mum Lucy explained. ‘She’s been in and out since November 6, but we will be home for Christmas which is very exciting.
‘It’s fantastic to see the players. It’s quite quiet here normally and she feels like she has missed the build-up to Christmas at school with the play, the games and the jumper day, so it’s lovely for the players to come in.’
David Luiz too had one special fan. James Middlehurst plays for the Team GB amputee football team. He was thrilled to meet his hero!
From the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, it was next stop the West Stand at the Bridge where there were plenty more smiles on faces at the Bridge Kids Christmas Party.
There in one of the suites hundreds of junior members of the club plus guests of the Chelsea Foundation, who had been enjoying party food to the accompaniment of balloon modelling and music, were joined by the players for plenty of selfies and signed photos, with one giant selfie taken of everyone together.
The undoubted highlight though was a quiz at the end between two teams consisting of two of the kids partnered by David Luiz and Victor Moses, with the final challenge for the youngsters an impression of Antonio Conte on the touchline. The manager himself judged the winner and given they were both hilariously good, he called it a draw.
Throughout the day, in the shadow of the West Stand, there was plenty of fun for all the family at a special Chelsea Christmas wonderland full of activities. As well as seeing live reindeer and penguins, children had the chance to take part in a series of challenges and games testing their aim, balance and speed.
There were craft workshops and ice sculpture opportunities too, while some competitive table football match-ups, between young and old alike, occasionally took centre stage!