Cesar Azpilicueta speaks to the boy about his own injury and how, through patience and rehabilitation, he recovered and continued his sport
It was a dream come true for Emirati boy Khalifa Ali Salem Al Mansoori, who is being treated in an Abu Dhabi hospital, after being surprised by a visit from Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
An avid supporter of English football club Chelsea and its legendary leaders, Almansouri missed out on seeing the ‘Blues’ lift the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup trophy in Abu Dhabi due to health problems following the accident.
When he was four years old, Al Mansoori was seriously injured in a car accident, fractured his spine and pelvis, and damaged his hip joint. Over the years, he never fully recovered from his injuries.
Only recently was the now 11-year-old Emirati boy able to undergo surgery at the Paley Middle East Clinic in Burjer Medical City (BMC) to reshape his hip and lengthen his femur. He has since been in hospital receiving intensive physical therapy to regain mobility in his hip and knee.
During his treatment, Al Mansoori’s doctors noticed that he almost always wore the Chelsea blue jersey and was even able to watch ‘The Blues’ on TV from his hospital bed. They realized how much the boy loved the London Club and its captain.
So when hospital authorities discovered Azpilicueta was in the country, they contacted the Spanish footballer – and he readily agreed to inspire his young fans with a surprise visit.
Al Mansoori is on cloud nine after meeting his favorite player.
“After missing the chance to watch the (FIFA Club World Cup) final and my favorite players lift the trophy, this visit boosted my morale. I couldn’t ask for more,” Al Mansoori told harrij times.
“Meeting him was like a dream come true, especially when I was in hospital. I congratulated him for helping Spain win over Italy (in the Nations League semi-final on Thursday). His words inspired me to get back on my feet as soon as possible ,” Al Mansoori said.
Azpilicueta spoke to Almansouri about his own injury and how he recovered to continue his sport through patience and rehabilitation.
“I’m here after a year and it’s great to see you. Stay brave and follow the doctor’s instructions. I want to watch you play in the future,” Azpilicueta, Chelsea’s most capped non-English player, told him. Said the young fans.
Dr. Michael Uglow, Paley Middle East Clinic director and BMC Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Consultant, said the visit will facilitate Al Mansoori’s recovery.
“I have been treating him for the past five years. He has always wanted to be a footballer. Watching football, especially seeing his favorite teams and players win trophies, has helped him build confidence and distract him from the pain. Attention. This particular visit will help in his recovery journey.”
The Spain international’s visit brought joy and hope to many supporters undergoing treatment as he joined them in signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Prioritize mental health
Azpilicueta then addressed patients and hospital staff in the atrium, emphasizing the importance of physical activity in promoting physical and mental health, which is critical to overall health and well-being.
“I want you to see that being strong and brave doesn’t mean you’re perfect or invincible. We, as athletes, face challenges, setbacks, and doubts, too. In times like these, I’m reminded that prioritizing our mental health can not only help us set our minds free.” Full potential as footballers also fosters our overall sense of well-being,” said Azpilicueta, who has won trophies such as the Champions League, Premier League title, FA Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and Europa League.
Azpilicueta praised the UAE’s efforts in hosting major international events and promoting sports.
“My family and I are regular visitors to the UAE. This time, I came with my wife. I enjoyed the warmth of the countryside. It is good to see the country’s leaders taking inspiring steps to promote sports.”
John Sunil, CEO of BMC’s parent company, Burjeel Holdings, added: “We are very grateful to Azpilicueta for visiting and spending quality time with Khalifa and others. His kind gesture lifted their spirits , motivating them to stay positive.”