The players split into three groups for the visits, which are organised annually by Manchester United Foundation, and were delighted to help raise spirits during the Christmas period.
Captain Wayne Rooney visited Francis House in Didsbury with teammate Marouane Fellaini and commented on the impact the Christmas visits can have on the young patients:
“It’s really important to do this when there are sick kids and children need a lift at Christmas time,” Rooney said. “I know how tough it can be for them but places like Francis House can maybe give the parents a bit of respite. Hopefully we’ve helped the children and parents and cheered them up a little bit.”
Vice-captain Michael Carrick led Chris Smalling, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sam Johnstone to The Christie’s Palatine Treatment Centre, which is home to the teenage and young adult unit and haematology and transplant inpatient unit, where they surprised patients who are going through a difficult time this festive period.
Carrick said, “I’ve met some of the guys today that I also saw last year and I know they’ve had a tough 12 months so it’s great to see there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. It’s so positive to see them looking forward to Christmas and getting on with the rest of their lives.”
17-year-old patient Robbie Rainton, from Stockport, met Michael and his teammates during last year’s hospital visits. He commented, “I was here last year and it was just a few days after my first chemotherapy session, so I was on the ward but made sure I had my Manchester United shirt on. I remember feeling ill on the day but I really wanted to see them.
“Today I met Michael Carrick again and he asked me how the treatment was going. He’s such a nice, friendly guy and it’s great to meet him again now that the hard treatment has gone so well.”
The rest of the squad visited the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, bringing smiles to the faces of those sadly facing a Christmas in hospital.
Juan Mata commented, “It is a pleasure for us to come here and visit the kids, we take a lot of energy from them, they aren’t having a great time but they are happy to see us. It’s amazing to see how many Manchester United followers we have around the world and especially here in Manchester, so it’s great for us to come and put smiles on their faces at Christmas.”