Smiles, selfies and signatures on Christmas visit

Antonio Conte and his squad surprised patients and their families with a visit to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital earlier today.

The players brought smiles to the faces of the children and their loved ones during their annual afternoon at the hospital, which is located a short distance from Stamford Bridge. They handed out presents on the various wards, as well as posing for pictures and signing autographs.

The squad trained at Cobham this morning ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game at West Ham, before going to the hospital, and Eden Hazard spoke about the importance of the visit, particularly given some of the youngsters will be spending Christmas in hospital.

'It’s something all of the players look forward to every year because it’s nice for us to see the kids. They are always very happy when we arrive and you can see the excitement on their faces.

'We handed out some Chelsea presents and had photos taken with the kids so if we can spread some happiness, especially at this time of year, that’s fantastic.

'We go to the hospital every year and it’s very important for us to be able to give something back.'

Alvaro Morata added: 'It is a good day for me and the team because it is a really good thing to come here to spend some time with these children and other people here in the hospital. We need to do this every year because it is good for us because we can think about how fortunate we are. It is incredible how the children fight against their adversities and we are happy to meet them.’ 

Kat Webb senior staff nurse at the hospital spoke about the benefit of the visit: ‘Christmas is a really busy time for us. The children that have been here for a good few days and weeks, they have been bouncing in the corridor, showing off their packs. They have had lovely presents and for some of the parents, they have got lovely stories to go back and tell other kids at home and it is brilliant for morale. It is the highlight of our winter.’

The players then headed straight from the hospital to Stamford Bridge, where a number of our younger supporters were enjoying themselves at the Bridge Kids Christmas Party, held in the East Stand.

The event was attended by junior members of the club, as well as guests of the Chelsea Foundation, with a wide range of entertainment and party food on offer, and if the children were having the time of their lives prior to the arrival of the players, they struggled to contain their excitement once the likes of Hazard, Morata, Cesc Fabregas and the rest of their team-mates popped in to surprise them.

After Gary Cahill made a short speech, the players made their way around the various tables, laughing and joking with the children and posing for selfies.

The event was hosted by big Chelsea fan Tubes of Soccer AM and BT Sport's Rachel Stringer, with some of the players answering questions posted by the youngsters, while Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois were involved in a very special secret task, with the footage coming soon on Chelsea TV

It capped off a memorable afternoon the children will never forget.