Jermain Defoe texts Bradley Lowery's family every day - and will continue to support them when he leaves Sunderland

Jermain Defoe and Bradley Lowery
Jermain Defoe and Bradley Lowery
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Jermain Defoe says his special bond with Bradley Lowery has made him reevaluate his footballing achievements.

The Sunderland striker has struck up a friendship with six-year-old Bradley, who is suffering from neuroblastoma.

The pair have grown increasingly close over the last year, with terminally-ill Bradley appearing as a mascot at both Sunderland and England games.

The youngster, from Blackhall Colliery, has captured the hearts of the nation and Defoe says his battle against cancer has put everything he's achieved in his career into perspective.

"I've been blessed in life to reach a level I've always wanted to reach," said Defoe. "It's a dream. I always remember being a kid in the school playground, I always wanted to be a professional footballer, play in the Premier League, score goals, play for England.

"When you've actually reached that level and you go through different things in life, you think 'wow', those things that you thought were so important, those things that you get so upset about, it's minor compared what actually people are going through.

"Not just Bradley but his family, and it's tough. I went through it with my dad and he was only 49 at the time. I sort of prepared for it (Bradley) a little bit but you can never be prepared as he's only six.

"To see him go through that sort of pain and stuff is really difficult."

Defoe, who is on England duty this week, is set to move from Sunderland to Bournemouth next month, having completed a medical with the Cherries.

But he says he will continue to be there for Bradley and the Lowery family, who revealed that doctors have told them the six-year-old only has weeks to live.

"Every day I'll wake up and text his mum, ask how he's getting on today and she'll say he's ok, but the reality is he's struggling," added Defoe.

"She put something out on social media saying he's got a few weeks to live and she sent me a message the other day. I didn't know what to say, it's tough.

"I can't really put into words how I felt. The things you get upset about, there's no comparison compared to what he's going through but all I can do is try to be there for him and the family.

"When I finish with England I'll try and get up there again before I go away.

"I want to try and spend as much time with him as possible."