Young patients at the Whittington Hospital received a special visit from football stars on the eve of Christmas.

Arsenal Football Club and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club players dropped by the hospital in Magdala Avenue to chat to staff and patients.

Both clubs have a long-standing tradition of visiting the hospital during the festive period, with visits in recent years being restricted to virtual hellos due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

Ham & High: Spurs players Molly Bartrip and Eveliina Summanen with Whittington Hospital staffSpurs players Molly Bartrip and Eveliina Summanen with Whittington Hospital staff (Image: TH FC)

This year staff and patients were joined by Arsenal men’s team players Aaron Ramsdale, Emile Smith Rowe, Mohammed Elneny, and Cedric Suarez, and women’s team players Kim Little and Manuela Zinsberger.

They surprised the children and their families with presents, signed autographs, and posed for photos.

Staff also welcomed Tottenham Hotspur women’s first team players Molly Bartrip and Eveliina Summanen, who spent time with parents and children and brought many gifts, smiles, and Christmas cheer to the ward, the Whittington said.

At the end of the visit, the players gave gifts to the hardworking staff on the ward "as a special thank you to them for their work over Christmas and throughout the year".

The children were overjoyed in getting to spend some time with their favourite players from the local football clubs and getting some new toys to play with. 

Speaking during the visit, Spurs defender  Molly Bartrip said: “I think you don’t realise that you can make a child’s day just by one small gesture, so it was really nice and kind of overwhelming.

"I felt a bit emotional giving them gifts. It makes you look at life in a different way and I’m just hopeful that they can have a lovely Christmas. It’s about spreading love at this time of year.”

Sarah Wilding, chief nurse and director of Allied Health Professionals at Whittington Health, said: “Christmas is a special time of the year for many families and being in hospital can be especially difficult for children.

"It was lovely to see the smile on our younger patients and their parents’ faces as they met the players and opened gifts. We are very grateful to Arsenal Football Club and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and their players for bringing Christmas cheer to our hospital."