Football heroes from Sheffield United spread Christmas cheer among poorly young patients when they paid a seasonal visit to the city’s children’s hospital.
The first team squad led by skipper Michael Doyle, as well as coaching staff and manager Nigel Clough, put smiles on the faces of children, parents and staff alike as they toured the corridors.
The Blades stopped for friendly chats and handed out goodie bags packed with club merchandise.
Among the patients who got to meet their heroes was Callum Blade Hubbard, aged 14, who lives near Dronfield and whose middle name was inspired by United.
Callum’s mum Anne Hubbard said the visit had cheered the whole family up.
“We are all Blades fans and seeing the players has given us all a boost,” she said.
Fellow patient Daniel Maasdam, 15, lives in Lincolnshire so supports a very different team – but said he was still very pleased to meet the footballers.
He said: “I’m a Grimsby Town fan but I think it’s brilliant they’ve come in to see us, it lifts your spirits a lot.”
Frances Gill, from Norton in Sheffield, said the players had put a smile on the face of her baby son Henry Gill, nine months.
“The visit has really perked him up and when they came here he gave them his first smile of the day,” she said.
“It’s fantastic they’ve come to see us.”
Blades right-back Tony McMahon said he cherished the annual visits to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
He said: “I’ve been a player for 10 or 11 years and every year it’s brilliant to have the opportunity to come up and meet the families and patients.”
Vice-captain Neil Collins said: “It is nice at this time of year to be able to come up and spread a bit of Christmas cheer.”
David Vernon-Edwards, director at the Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “To see the excitement on the children’s faces as they met the players from Sheffield United was heartwarming.
“It certainly helped everyone feel festive and put smiles on our patients’ faces.
“As a charity we receive a huge amount of support throughout the year, thanks to the volunteers and fundraisers who commit time and time again to making things better, but it’s also great to receive support in other ways – so I’d like to give a massive thank you to the Blades players and management team who came to see us all this Christmas.”