IRELAND's record goal scorer Robbie Keane lit up little faces at Temple Street Children's Hospital when he dropped in for a special Christmas visit.
Back home in Ireland for his first Christmas in 16 years, the LA Galaxy striker is enjoying a "hectic" time with family and friends.
However, he made sure to make time to pay a visit not just to Temple Street but to all three children's hospitals in Dublin, bringing a happy smile to the faces of youngsters spending the festive period in hospital.
Having already visited Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin last week, yesterday he dropped in to Temple Street and later Tallaght Hospital along with wife Claudine.
"You don't realise how lucky you are in life until you've got your own kid and we're very fortunate that he's very, very healthy," said Robbie.
"When you see other kids who are not as fortunate, it's very sad to see --
but if I can put a smile on someone's face for five minutes or whatever -- a day -- I certainly will get a lot out of that.
"It's never nice to be in hospital, especially over Christmas, and if I can help in any little way it'll be great."
He said he was "honoured" to be allowed to meet the children and said he was very fortunate that he was in the position to "give a little bit back".
"Sportspeople, whether it's me or anybody else -- can help bring a smile to people's faces and that's the whole reason we do what we do," he said.
His busy visit to the hospital saw him drop in to say hello to children at the renal ward, the ICU, the post-surgical ward and the brand-new 'top flat' ward, which caters for children with a range of conditions.
The children have also had visits this week from the crew at Tara Street fire station and from the bands the Coronas and Kodaline.
First to meet Keane was a young boy leaving hospital to spend Christmas at home. Keane asked him what Santa was bringing for Christmas and then spotting his red Arsenal bag, joked: "Nothing Arsenal, I hope."
Next was Ciaran Curley (10) from Ballinasloe, Co Galway, who has recently undergone a kidney transplant. Ciaran was hoping to get home for a night to spend Christmas with his brother Jake (16) and sister Aiveen (8).
"They're really looking forward to having him home so hopefully he'll be well enough," said mother Claire and father Jimmy.
"The most important thing is that Ciaran's okay -- if we're here in hospital for Christmas, we're here," they added. A huge fan of the Boys in Green, Ciaran said it made his day to meet Keane. "He's amazing," he said.
Keane also dropped in to see little Amber Lily O'Rourke (5) from Carlow town. Seven weeks ago, Amber suffered a right-sided stroke, which affects the left side of her body. She is undergoing dialysis because of kidney damage, and is hoping to get home for Christmas day.
"We still don't know what caused the stroke," said dad Billy.
He paid tribute to all the staff at Temple Street hospital. "Every single one is amazing -- from the people who empty the dustbins to the consultants," he said.
Christmas is a special time at Temple Street, said head of portering services, John Doyle, who told how everyone makes a special effort to create a magical feel in the hospital.
The children get their toys from Santa at the ends of their beds and have Christmas dinner from 12-2pm. After that, they have the toy run, when Santa pays a special visit.
By Nicola Anderson