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The Incredible Moment When Jermain Defoe Led Bradley Lowery Out As Mascot For England

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

The Incredible Moment When Jermain Defoe Led Bradley Lowery Out As Mascot For England

Bradley Lowery's battle with Neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that mostly affects young children, was a long and difficult one, but one man was a constant in the months before his passing.

From holding Bradley's hand as he walked out at Wembley ahead of England's win over Lithuania, to visiting the youngster in hospital on a regular basis, Jermain Defoe became an important part of his life.

It was a relationship that captured the hearts of a nation and we all watched their special friendship blossom. Here he is, attending Bradley's birthday party with Sunderland teammate Vito Mannone.

And one of the most moving moments involving Bradley and Jermain happened on March 26, 2017, when the former West Ham, Spurs and Sunderland forward led the youngster out as a mascot for England's game at Wembley Stadium.

"I hope you had an amazing day," Defoe wrote on Twitter after the game. "It was perfect to walk out at Wembley with you."

In the coming weeks and months, Defoe continued to support Bradley in his fight against Neuroblastoma but the brave youngster from Blackhall Colliery, near Hartlepool, broke the heart of a nation on 7 July when he sadly lost his battle.

The former England international paid tribute to Bradley with an incredibly powerful letter after his passing.

"Goodbye my friend, I'm going to miss you a lot," he wrote. "I feel so blessed that God brought you into my life and had some amazing moments with you. For that, I'm so grateful.

"I'll never forget the way you looked at me when I met you for the first time, the genuine love in those cute eyes. I'm really finding it hard to find words to express what you mean to me.

"The way you say my name, your little smiles when the cameras come out like a little superstar and the love I felt when I was with you.

"Your courage and bravery will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life. You will never know what a difference you made to me as a person. God has you in his arms and I'll always carry you on my heart.

"Sleep tight little one. My best friend."

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

Bradley's legacy will live on forever and the Bradley Lowery Foundation continue to do great work in the community.

Defoe, meanwhile, announced his retirement from professional football on Thursday morning after 22 years in the game.

"It's been a really tough decision, and one I have discussed with my family and those closest to me," the 39-year-old said on social media.

"I made my professional debut at 17 years old in 1999, and I feel now is the right time to bow out. I have had an incredible journey, and have met some amazing people in the game.

"Football will always remain in my blood, and it gives me great pride and satisfaction to look back on the blessed career that I've had. I now look forward to spending some quality time with my friends and family before moving forward on this next chapter in my career.

"Thank you to all the fans from each club I've played for. The love I have received and endured throughout my career will never be forgotten, and I will always have a special bond with you all. Thank you also to my amazing teammates, coaches, and staff for playing such an integral part in my career.

"Lastly, I want to say thank you to my mum. You gave me a ball at two years old, and you made me believe my dream could happen. All that I am is because of you, and I owe everything to you and God."

Topics: Jermain Defoe, Football

Jack Kenmare
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