The event was organised by the Foundation, which manages the club’s relationship with the children’s hospice; a partnership that has raised £666,887 over the past seven years.
The players spent time posing for photographs before tackling a series of light hearted matches on Fifa 14 – Manchester United vs Manchester United – with hospice users Christian Darlington and Patrick Kelly.
Rio said: “As players we really enjoy being able to visit places like Francis House and the club has a great relationship with the hospice. The lads enjoy seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as well as meeting the families who receive such great support and care. ”
Patrick, 9, from Sale has been coming to Francis House since he was three years old. Manchester United fan Patrick beamed as Rio autographed a pennant for him: “It was cool, it’s all been really fun and exciting and I got to play a game even though sadly I lost. It’s great we’ll be able to play on the PS4s all the time now.
“I can now say I’ve played a game of football for Manchester United against Rio Ferdinand.”
Paul, Patrick’s dad, added: “Days like this are superb enabling all the kids and families to socialise together. It’s been a fantastic day and Patrick can just be himself. Next time we’ll have to challenge Rio to a game of power chair football.”
Christian, 16, from Milnrow, Rochdale said: “I’ve seen Rio before in Manchester and it was great to play Vidic on the PlayStation; our game was a draw. It was a special treat to meet the players, get their signatures and talk to them.”
Francis House Chief Executive David Ireland said: “There was real excitement when Rio and Nemanja came through the doors. When players from the club come and visit it makes a real difference to the families, children and young people who live day to day with the difficulties they face.
“Francis House is all about making the most of life and cramming in as many great experiences into as short a time as possible.”
The visit coincided with the finishing touches being added to a new £3.5 million seven-bedroom extension at the Didsbury site and the players also met with families of young people with life-limiting conditions to hear how they will benefit from extra nights of respite care when the new-build opens in April.
Francis House was chosen as charity partner of Manchester United seven years ago. The link through Manchester United Foundation helped raise £112,000 last year. Find out more.
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