Duncan Watmore has been given a 'real lift' by Real Madrid's classy letter wishing him well as he starts the long road back from another knee injury.
The Sunderland forward has suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury for the second time in the space of a year, with the 23-year-old facing another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
But the well-wishes from Spanish giants Madrid have given the forward a huge boost, revealed his father Ian, who praised Sunderland for the way they have cared for Watmore.
The letter, from Emilio Butragueno, Real Madrid's director of institutional relations, read: "Dear Duncan, On behalf of our president, Florentino Perez, and those who work for Real Madrid,
we would like to wish you a smooth and speedy recovery from your knee injury."
Watmore's father Ian told BBC Sport: "To get the letter was a total surprise but what an incredible gesture from a very classy club.
"It has given Duncan a real lift. He sent me a picture of it on WhatsApp as he left the training ground and I asked if I could tweet it. The reaction has been great.
"His situation is just awful really. We don't know how long he will be out this time but I would be surprised if he is back before September or October next year.
"It happened through a freak accident. It's not an inherent weakness in the knee.
"It was just one of those weird footballing things that can happen. The same surgeon who rebuilt his knee last year has already operated again.
"Duncan came through England Under-21s with players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Will Hughes and Jordan Pickford.
"So while they're all emerging on the Premier League scene he's stuck in the slow lane again, which is very difficult for him.
"But it doesn't help mentally when you think about what could have been. You have to deal with the situation as it is and Duncan is good at that.
"He still has time to prove himself. He is in the best hands and Sunderland have been fantastic."
After returning against Preston North End in September, Watmore featured regularly under former boss Simon Grayson and re-established himself as a key member of the team.
But he suffered a recurrence of the cruciate knee ligament injury in the same knee against Millwall, just six games into his return.
Watmore recently became the first Championship footballer to sign up to Juan Mata's Common Goal charity, pledging one per cent of his salary to good causes over the course of his career.
Ian added: "Mata's charity is followed very closely by the Spanish media, so I suspect Real Madrid have picked up on what happened to Duncan that way.
"Either that or Chris Coleman his manager has said something to Gareth Bale through their relationship at the Wales international level.
"But for the club to think of him and send a letter is wonderful."