Chelsea captain Azpilicueta stuns Emirati boy in Abu Dhabi hospital with surprise visit - GulfToday

Chelsea captain Azpilicueta stuns Emirati boy in Abu Dhabi hospital with surprise visit


Emirati boy Khalifa Ali Salem Al Mansoori is overjoyed by his favourite footballer Cesar Azpilicueta's visit.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

It was a dream come true for young Emirati boy Khalifa Ali Salem Al Mansoori, who is receiving treatment at a private hospital in Abu Dhabi when Chelsea Football Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta walked into his room and warmly greeted him. Khalifa, a patient at Burjeel Medical City, was left awestruck by the presence of the renowned player who surprised him with a visit. The ardent football fan shared his desire to witness the legendary moment of Azpilicueta lifting the FIFA Club World Cup 2021 in Abu Dhabi — postponed to February 2022 due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, his health problems prevented him from experiencing that iconic match.


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Khalifa had sustained serious injuries at the age of four when he was hit by a car. In the accident, Khalifa’s spine and pelvis were fractured and his hip joint was damaged. At the Paley Middle East Clinic at Burjeel Medical City, he recently underwent surgery to change the shape of his damaged hip joint and lengthen the femur. The Emirati boy, undergoing intensive physical therapy at the hospital to regain movement of his hip and knee, was thrilled to interact with the football star.

Azpilicueta, who is in the UAE with his family, learned about Khalifa’s story through the hospital authorities and wanted to surprise him with a visit. The inspirational encounter filled the hospital corridors with smiles, laughter, and a renewed sense of hope for both the patient and his family.

“Meeting Azpilicueta is a dream come true for me. As a football fan, I never imagined I would get to meet him in person, especially during my stay at the hospital. I congratulated him on the Spanish team’s win against Italy yesterday. His kind words have given me a morale boost in my recovery journey,” said the excited 11-year-old.

Khalifa momentarily brushes aside suffering amid all-round glee over the Chelsea captain's visit.

The international footballer spoke to Khalifa about his own injuries and how, through patience and rehabilitation, he recovered to pursue his sport.

“I am here after one year in the UAE, and happy to meet you, Khalifa. Stay brave and follow the instructions of your doctors. I want to watch you play football in the future,” Azpilicueta said to his young fan.

Before ending the meeting, Azpilicueta asked Khalifa who his favourite player was, and without thinking twice, the boy said, 'It is you', creating a joyous ending to the meeting.

Azpilicueta scores a goal of smiles for a patient.

The Spanish International’s visit brought joy and hope to many football fans undergoing treatment at Burjeel Medical City. He also addressed patients and hospital staff in the atrium area of the facility.

'I am enjoying the warmth of the UAE people'

The player also praised the UAE's efforts in promoting sports across the globe. Azpilicueta said he was pleased to see several young players coming out of the region and hoped the country’s efforts would lead to a significant impact on the international sports scene. "My family and I are regular visitors to the UAE. This time I came along with my wife. I am enjoying the warmth of the country. It is also great to see the country's leadership taking inspiring steps to promote sports."

‘Prioritise mental health’

Azpilicueta spoke about the importance of sports in promoting physical and mental well-being during the interaction. He also emphasised the importance of mental wellness and psychological health, which are crucial to overall health and well-being.

The Chelsea captain leaves his signature of cheer among other patients.

“I hope you can see that being strong and brave does not mean being perfect or invincible. We, as athletes, also face challenges, setbacks, and doubts. During such moments, I am reminded that prioritising our mental health not only helps us unlock our full potential as football players but also nurtures our overall well-being. We keep pushing ourselves because we believe in our abilities and our dreams,” he added.

He also visited the sports medicine and rehabilitation facilities at Burjeel Medical City to familiarise himself with the latest medical techniques and equipment used in treating sports-related injuries.

“We are extremely grateful to Cesar Azpilicueta for visiting Burjeel Medical City and spending quality time with Khalifa and others. His kind gesture lifted their spirits and inspired them to stay positive,” said John Sunil, CEO of Burjeel Holdings, the parent company of Burjeel Medical City.

Azpilicueta has been a part of Chelsea Football Club since August 2012 and the club captain since 2019. He is the most capped non-English player for the London club. Azpilicueta has won all the club trophies with Chelsea, including the Champions League, the Premier League title, the FA Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, and the Europa League.

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