YOUNGSTERS refused to leave hospital when they heard the entire Pompey squad was planning a Christmas visit.
The team – plus new manager Michael Appleton – dropped in on the paediatric ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, to bring Christmas presents to sick and injured children.
Players spent time chatting, signing Pompey shirts and photos, and even playing table football with young patients.
Massive fan Evie Marshall, 15, was admitted three weeks ago with an eating disorder and delayed leaving the ward so she could meet the stars.
The teenager, of Cliff Road, in Hillhead, said: ‘When I heard they were coming I was so excited, I couldn’t go home without meeting them.
‘It was brilliant, they were really friendly.’
Also desperate to meet his heroes was 13-year-old Ashley Young, of Birdlip Road, Paulsgrove, who had a major operation and was due to go home yesterday morning.
Ashley, who is pictured on the front page, said: ‘I’m the biggest Pompey fan ever, and I had to stay and see them. It was amazing – I’m so happy I didn’t miss them.’
For 23-year-old Charlene Siddall the visit coincided with a huge improvement in the condition of her 11-week-old daughter.
She said: ‘We thought Esmay would have to spend Christmas in hospital, but then on Sunday she suddenly started breathing on her own, it was miraculous. And then to have the Pompey boys in today was just such a treat. I had no idea they were coming.’
Kelly Wallis, 33, of West Street, in Old Portsmouth, received a present for her 17-month old son Harry who was suffering from pneumonia.
She said: ‘It was a lovely surprise, my husband is going to be so jealous.’
After his first Christmas visit to QA as Pompey manager Appleton said it was incredibly rewarding.
‘From our point of view it puts a lot of things in perspective,’ he said. ‘Christmas is an important time of the year to be with your family, and some of these youngsters will spend it in here, so anything we can do to put a smile on their faces is worth it.’