Jermain Defoe says he 'loved' Bradley Lowery in first interview since cancer battler's death

Jermain Defoe and Bradley Lowery.
Jermain Defoe and Bradley Lowery.

Former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has spoken of his love for 'best friend' Bradley Lowery who tragically lost his battle with cancer last month.

Six-year-old Bradley passed away after a brave fight with neuroblastoma.

Jermain Defoe and Bradley Lowery.

Jermain Defoe and Bradley Lowery.

Over the past few months he had forged an incredible bond with the England player after he appeared as a mascot for both Sunderland and the national side.

In an emotional interview with BBC's Football Focus ahead of the start of the new Premier League season, Defoe, who is now at Bournemouth, said: "The story of Bradley is just special.

"He was my best friend and that was genuine.

"He loved his football, he loved me and I loved him. I could see in his eyes that it was genuine.

"There was nothing I could give him apart from just being a friend."

Defoe added that he keeps in contact with Bradley's family including mum Gemma, Carl and brother Kieran.

The striker made a number of visits to see the youngster in the last few months of his life.

"Even when he was towards the end and was really struggling, he was in bed and couldn't move," said Defoe.

"Then I could walk into the room he would just jump up and his mum was like 'he has not moved all day'.

"For me, every time I saw him it was a special feeling."