Fierce rivals unite in Christmas spirit for children in hospital

22 December 2017

Famous football foes gladly set aside their differences on the pitch to hand out presents to children at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Arsenal’s mascot, Gunnersaurus, was first off the bench with visits to the childrens’ wards at Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. The eight foot green dinosaur’s trips were greeted with delight by the young patients.

Two-year-old Ayden Chee gets a special gift from Gunnersaurus 

Once the Gunners mascot had safely left Barnet Hospital it was time for a visit from Tottenham Hotspur players, including Moussa Sissoko, Victor Wanyama, Georges-Kevin N’Koudou
and Sarah Wiltshire, from Spurs Ladies.

They met parents and children on Galaxy’s children’s ward and also met some of the hospital’s newest arrivals in the Starlight neo-natal ward.

Spurs midfielder, Victor Wanyama, said: “It's important to come here and support the kids. They need support during hard times and I hope we have made them a little bit happier by visiting them and giving them some presents - it's important that we try to keep them smiling. I hope they will get better soon.”

Fellow midfielder, Moussa Sissoko, added: “We are very lucky because we are professional footballers but when you see the children, who are here for different reasons, you realise everything should be good in people's lives and it gives you some important perspective. You try to give them a good moment because some are fans of football and when they see some of the players, they are very happy. If we can give them some happiness that is the most important thing and that is why we are glad to be here.”

(L-R: George-Kevin N'Koudou, Moussa Sissoko, Shaan Bhartiya, Simran Bhartiya, Sarah Wiltshire and Victor Wanyama)

Andrea Nicholas, senior play specialist at Barnet Hospital, said: “There is legendary rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur on the pitch but I’m pleased to say there was no sign of it in our hospitals today. This really is the time of the year where football clubs want to reach out to all their fans, even those who have to be in hospital.

“Of course we made sure that Gunnersaurus had left the building before our Spurs players arrived.”

Andrea remained diplomatic about the dinosaur and his fellow guests.

“I couldn’t possibly comment on which visit was the most popular. Let’s call it a draw!”