Footballing superstar Kevin De Bruyne gives school children Christmas surprise at Manchester City

The World Cup may have thrown up some surprising results, but one of the biggest shocks of the year was delivered in Manchester by one of the stars now back from Qatar.

When the children from Our Lady Primary school in Manchester were invited to have a kickabout with Santa, they had no idea that the jolly man in the big blue suit, who they were trading passes with, was one of the greatest players on the planet.

And so, when Kevin De Bruyne - along with teammate, and fellow Santa, Cole Palmer - removed his grey beard and glasses, the reaction nearly lifted the roof off Manchester City's Football Academy.

"I've never been Father Christmas before. I've only ever been The Grinch," said De Bruyne, after signing autographs and sharing hugs with his stunned fans.

"I think it's always nice to do things like this because, obviously, it's that time of the year and people enjoy it.

"And when they don't have a clue and then you see their faces of their light up, it's always nice to see."

A young De Bruyne fan was gobsmacked at meeting his hero. Credit: Manchester City

The Whalley Range children were attending a session run by City in the Community as part of the club's 'A Time For Giving' campaign, which has raised £190,000 - the equivalent of 76,000 hours of free community coaching.

The club has also donated 1,600 items to patients at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Former City star, Nedum Onuoha, who is now a City in the Community Trustee, said: "Having grown up in the local area, I know just how impactful these funds will be.

"Free football sessions for children in Manchester won’t just increase their levels of physical activity, but will also boost confidence, self-esteem and mental wellbeing.

"The kids today were stunned to see these Man City stars. They were really good sports.

"Because of their costumes, they couldn't really see the ball when they tried to pass it.

"The first pass from Santa actually went outside the cones and I thought that's not the sort of delivery I'd expect from Kevin De Bruyne."

Kevin De Bruyne went undercover as a blue Father Christmas, playing games with the school children, before revealing who he was. Credit: Manchester City

The light relief is welcome for De Bruyne, after a much-fancied Belgium failed to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup.

But he says he's in the right mental state to return to action for City, as they restart a campaign which paused with the Blues second in the Premier League.

"I just take it as it is. I've played in many many tournaments now. Sometimes it goes really well and sometimes it's a little bit less," he said philosophically.

"So I just keep going on with my job. But I can't really say how it's going to be in a couple of months.

"You know, you can be fresh in the beginning and tired at the end. Or vice versa.

"So I hope everybody comes back in the right mental state, the right rhythm, and then hopefully we'll do all right."