Jermain Defoe says he would give up his OBE to have Bradley Lowery back

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Jermain Defoe says he would give up the OBE he received in the Queen's Birthday Honours list if he could have 'best friend' Bradley Lowery back in his life.

The England forward bonded instantly with Bradley, who suffered from neuroblastoma, a rare and debilitating form of cancer, when the pair met during Defoe's time at Sunderland.

He spent lots of time with Bradley, who appeared as a mascot for Sunderland and walked out at Wembley as an England mascot in March last year.

Defoe insisted his OBE, awarded in the Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of the work done by his charity the Jermain Defoe Foundation, was in memory of the six-year-old, who died in July last year.

He tweeted: "The proudest moment of my life to be awarded an OBE. I'm blessed to have received the honour, but it isn't for me or about me.

"It's for Bradley and those he loved. I'd trade it all for him to be back in our lives, forget the goals and awards, it's the memories I'll cherish...

Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe.

Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe.

"I'd also like to dedicate this to all the people behind the scenes at the @JermainDefoeFdn for the amazing work they do over in St Lucia.

"Last but not least I want to thank mum, as none of it would be possible without her and my family. God bless."

Defoe, 35, who now plays for Bournemouth, said Bradley's mum Gemma would be the first person he called on receiving the honour.

"I know she will be happy, she will be proud," he said.