'There’s not a day that goes by when he’s not in my mind' - Jermain Defoe opens up about friendship with young cancer hero Bradley Lowery
Former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has opened up about his friendship with Bradley Lowey as he backs a cancer charity fundraising campaign.
Jermain grew close to six-year-old Sunderland fan Bradley – who touched hearts around the world with the story of his brave fight against neuroblastoma.
During his cancer battle, the Blackhall youngster raised awareness of childhood cancer with his love of football and appeared as a mascot alongside his hero, Jermain, to spread the message; ‘cancer has no colours.’
Now, Jermain has shared stories of his friendship with Bradley and the courage the youngster showed during his illness as he backs Cancer Deadline Day.
The campaign aims to raise funds for the following eight charities; Breast Cancer Now, CLIC Sargent, Macmillan Cancer Support, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Prostate Cancer UK, The Ruth Strauss Foundation, Teenage Cancer Trust and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Jermain, who now plays for Rangers, told BBC 5 Live: “It’s four years since he died but there’s not a day that goes by when he’s not in my mind.
"Especially now with the lockdown.
"The time that you get at home when you sit and reflect about things...of course I think about Bradley.
"I still keep in contact with the family – I’m very close to them.
"When I got back into the England squad, he came out with me at Wembley and every Sunderland home game I’d walk out with him so it was really difficult after he died.”
Former England strikers Alan Shearer and Michael Owen also joined Jermain in backing the campaign, which has so far raised more than £28,000.
More than 50 football clubs from the Premier League, WSL, Scottish Premier League, English Football League and non-league also signed up in support.The campaign ran alongside football’s transfer window and asked fans to "make a transfer for cancer" by donating online, referencing their own football club as they did so and helping their team climb up the donations ‘league table.’
Although the giving table closed when the transfer window shut In England at 11pm on deadline day, fans are still able to make a donation online until World Cancer Day on Thursday, February 4.
Jermain continued: “It’s well-documented, my relationship with Bradley Lowery, losing my dad, who had oesophagus cancer, so myself and my family have been through it a lot.
"That’s why I’m fully behind Cancer Deadline Day because it’s something that is close to my heart."
He continued: "I have so many good memories of Bradley – when I got back into the England squad, which was a special moment for me and my family, [when] Bradley walked out with me.
"Moments like that I’ll never forget, the times I spent with him in the box after games, going to his house, his birthday party...I have so many good memories of Bradley and the family which I’m really happy about.”
For more information, or to donate, please visit: https://www.cancerdeadlineday.org/