Sebastian Prödl regularly made unprompted visits to hospitals in Austria and Germany around the festive period to spread a bit of cheer, so he did not need to be asked twice when a member of Watford's staff wondered if he would mind making a special visit to a sick Hornets fan in Great Ormond Street hospital around Christmas 2016.
"I benefited a lot in my career, I am healthy and a lot of people struggle so I thought it was a good idea to go and help," said Prödl.
Little did he know what a profound effect the extraordinary brave young man he was about to meet would have on him.
The cheery child lying in bed was Ossie Robinson. He had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer of the nervous system.
“He was an inspiring lad, a good lad,” said Prödl. “I remember the first meeting he played jokes on me, which was very funny. He was so positive for someone so sick. The family were very inspiring and big role models in terms of being a parent. It was incredible to see.”
Prödl didn't just leave things there. He couldn't. It is not in his nature. He regularly visited Ossie in hospital, invited him and his family to watch a game at Vicarage Road in a box, spent time with them at the training ground and always asked for updates on his deteriorating condition.
“When he got really bad the parents called me and asked me if I would like to see him again,” said Prödl. “I went there and he was critical. I think I just helped him get a little bit more hope.”
Tragically, Ossie died on May 4. He was just 11.
“The club told me and it was hard, a sad time,” Prödl said. “It was hard for me as when you become friends it becomes even harder. It was a sad, sad moment when I heard the news.”
Prödl would have attended the funeral but Watford were travelling to an away game in Leicester.
“I wanted to go but I couldn't,” he said. “I met his dad again at the stadium and told him Ossie is still a big part of the Watford family. The love he had for this club was amazing. He will be present all the time as long as I am here. He is omnipresent. I will always think of him."
It was fitting that at the end of that season, Ossie should be posthumously named Supporter of the Season and Prödl crowned Graham Taylor OBE Player of the Season. There is a lovely poignant picture on Prödl's Instagram account of him and Ossie's parents with the awards.
“Thank you for all the support you have given to us and Ossie,” wrote Ossie's godmother underneath. “I cannot thank you enough for the smiles you put on his face.”
Prödl is uncomfortable with any praise. “I did it for these people. I didn't do it for myself. The focus should always be on Ossie — not me.”
The focus was definitely on Prödl at Wembley in May when he won the Player of the Season gong. He was proud as punch. Even John Barnes and Luther Blissett didn't manage to win that one.
“I'm now more aware of what an outstanding and incredible award it was for me, more than when I received it,” said Prodl.
“I went straight to the national team and had to focus on different things. Now people come and say 'Ah, you won the Player of the Season award'. People don't forget. I honour it very much.
“The trophy is in my office. I don't see it every day but now and then I see it and it reminds me. It means a lot to me because it proved I took the right decision to join Watford, it proves I am capable of being an important player in the Premier League.”
Prödl deserves an enormous amount of credit for joining Watford when he did in the summer of 2015. While other targets wanted to wait and see who was joining first and who the Head Coach was going to be, Prödl took a huge leap of faith and was the first through the door. Being a free agent and an international defender, he wasn't short of offers but he chose Watford.
“I had a good feeling with the club,” he said. “I had a good meeting with Gino and I asked him to show me everything, the facilities, the club, the stadium. I slept on it but when I left the tour I had the feeling this was going to be my future. It was a big decision for me but my gut said it was the right decision and two-and-a-half years later, I still think it was a good decision.”