12 Junio 2017 10:24
'I've been blessed by being a part of his life'
Jermain Defoe refuses to abandon Bradley Lowery despite the distance between them. The striker intends to spend as much time with this 6-year-old Sunderland fan as he can, even though Defoe has left the northern club to play with Bournemouth.
'I feel blessed I've been able to be in his life,' Defoe told TalkSport, making clear that his relationship with his biggest fan, who suffers from cancer, has gone much deeper than the occasional pre-Sunderland match reunion.
Bradley suffers from neuroblastoma and is receiving palliative care at his home in Blackhall Colliery. His parents recently admitted that doctors have told them the boy has just weeks to live.
But during the short time the boy has left, Defoe is determined to be there for him, despite the fact that Sunderland has been knocked out of the Premier League and Defoe has transferred to Bournemouth. Defoe confesses that getting to know Bradley has been one of the highlights of his career. 'Away from football, the relationship I've managed to have with him and what I've brought to his life and what he's brought to mine, its been really special,' says Defoe.
'It's really sad to see him going through what he's going through – he's only six. I've got so many great memories and moments that I've shared with him that will stay with me for the rest of my life so I'm grateful for that.'
One unforgettable moment was Bradley's goal at halftime during Sunderland's match against Chelsea last December:
Or the photo of Bradley in Defoe's arms at Wembley before England's match with Lithuania in March.
He told talkSPORT: 'Every day I wake up and text his mum and ask how he’s getting on and she says "it’s OK", but the reality is he’s struggling. She put something out on social media saying he’s got a few weeks to live and she messaged me and I didn’t know what to say. It was tough, I can't put in words how I felt.'
'All I can do is try and be here for him and his family. When I finish here with England I'll try and get up there and spend some time with him before I go away (to Bournemouth),' says Defoe, heartbroken at the news about his best pal. 'I just want to spend as much time with him as possible.'
Hearing that this bright young boy has just weeks to live has come as a hard blow to everyone.