Jermain Defoe has reflected upon his friendship with Bradley Lowery, six years on from his death in 2017.
Lowery died at the age of six, after the young fan was diagnosed with a rare type, called neuroblastoma, when he was just 18 months old.
His story touched many hearts across the world.During his brave battle, he was also a special guest of in 2016.
In a new podcast, the former Sunderland captain said he still thinks about Lowery on a daily basis.
‘He will always be in my heart, for the rest of my life,’
Jermain Defoe has reflected on his friendship with Bradley Lowery during a new podcast
The six-year-old Sunderland fan died in July 2017 after a long battle with neuroblastoma
‘There’s not a day that goes past where I don’t wake up and think about little Bradley, because his love is genuine.’
Defoe was speaking to the boy’s mother Gemma at the family’s home just south of Sunderland, and during the emotional reunion, Mig8 he revealed that seeing Bradley suffer in his cancer battle ‘changed me as a person’.
Defoe, now aged 40, became close with the Black Cats supporter when they first met when the London-born player was leading Sunderland in September 2016, after the youngster was chosen to be a mascot for the day.
The young fan was keen to find Defoe and compare their matching football boots.The former West Ham and Spurs player said: ‘It was something I’d never experienced before.’
The pair remained close from that day, both at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light ground, and an England game against Lithuania at Wembley in March 2017, four months before Lowery’s death.
The pair remained close, with Bradley acting as a mascot for an England game at Wembley
Bradley’s mother Gemma Lowery said they shared an ‘instant connection’ despite differences
Gemma Lowery has since set up a charity in her son’s name, and said the friendship ‘meant a lot’ to the whole family.
She told Defoe: ‘When you came to the hospital he jumped on his bed and fell asleep cuddling you.All he wanted was a cuddle.
‘You’re from totally different backgrounds, totally different cultures, but that connection was instant.’
When Defoe briefly returned to Sunderland before his retirement in 2022, showing the continued impact that the pair of them have left.