Outgoing Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has spoken of his heartbreak over Bradley Lowery - and how the ill youngster inspired him to perform at his best.
The 34-year-old, who will leave relegated Sunderland under a clause in his contract, has been pictured in countless emotional scenes with Bradley after the pair became "best friends" following a visit by SAFC players to the ill little boy.
Defoe, who is understood to be heading to Bournemouth next season, has opened up on how Bradley was his goal for England against Lithuania - and how he prays for the youngster every day.
Defoe walked on to the pitch at the game holding Bradley's hand, and was determined to do his best to make the little lad smile. After the game, Defoe dedicated his goal to his new best friend.
“I’ve scored a lot of goals, but that goal was something else. It was Mother’s Day, Bradley was with me, I felt I had to score. It was something I was craving so bad. I’d rehearsed it so much in my mind when it happened, it was like, wow, this is meant to be. When I got the goal, I just felt blessed," he told The Telegraph.
"The way he looked at me that day, the smile: it’s such a good feeling that you could bring something to his life. Everywhere I go people ask after him.
"[Sunderland manager] David Moyes took us to New York mid-season and people were coming up to me saying ‘how’s Bradley?’ Part of you feels it’s good that we have helped raise awareness of the illness.
"But it’s also really sad. When you see a six-year-old suffer like that, it’s so hard to understand. He’s hardly had a life. I pray for him every day, just ask God to heal him.”
Defoe's touching words come as Bradley Lowery's family face their greatest ever heartache. They announced yesterday that they fear he has just weeks to live.
The terminally-ill Sunderland fan, who suffers from a rare cancer called neuroblastoma, received the "devastating" results on Thursday, according to the Bradley Lowery's Fight Facebook page.
A statement on the page read: "My heart is broken in two, it is too soon for this to happen, it should never be happening to start with. "My baby has had to put up with so much over the past four years and now he has to suffer a painful death.
"How is that fair??? Why should any parent have to be put through this heart ache???"