Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe says battling youngster Bradley Lowery is in his prayers every night after making an emotional hospital visit.
Brave Bradley, who has terminal cancer neuroblastoma, was treated to a visit from Sunderland players at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, where the youngster is undergoing pioneering antibody treatment to prolong his life.
Bradley Lowery, five, fell asleep cuddling his hero Defoe and was thrilled to see club captain John O'Shea, goalkeeper Vito Mannone and midfielder Seb Larsson visit him in hospital on Thursday.
Bradley's family shared photos of the hospital visit on social media with their many well-wishers who have supported his battle with the rare cancer neuroblastoma.
An emotional Defoe spoke about his visit to the hospital when he was presented with the North East Football Writers' Player of the Year award, at Ramside Hall, in Durham.
Defoe told the Echo: "I have been in contact with his mum and said what day did we want to go and see him.
"It was a perfect opportunity to go and see him and it was amazing to see him.
"I knew it would be hard, I have been through it before with family members but even then you struggle to understand why this happens to certain people.
"To go to a hospital and see a young child in that situation was difficult but he was amazing.
"As soon as I walked into the room he jumped up and grabbed me and said 'get in the bed!'
"He got the covers on me, he said to his mum 'could you turn the lights off?' He just wanted a cuddle and to go to sleep - you can imagine the unbelievable feeling.
"Obviously, it fills you with tears but you can't show your emotions as he is only young and you don't want to show him you were upset. It was an amazing feeling.
"I have been blessed in life and it is a great feeling to be able to give something back and make someone so happy, a little boy who is having a tough time at the moment.
"Bradley is in my prayers every night.
"He is an amazing young man and I look forward to seeing him again."
Bradley, from Blackhall, County Durham, has been a mascot for his beloved Sunderland several times this season and has touched the hearts of fans across the world.
Mum Gemma Lowery said the visit really cheered Bradley up and thanked the team for taking the time to see him.
She said: "All the lads were fantastic and really cheered Bradley up."