JERMAIN Defoe’s heart is as big as his ability to score goals. The impact of one, brave young man has totally changed his outlook on life.
New Bournemouth signing Defoe made a huge impression on Sunderland fans during his brief stay on Wearside – one in particular.
Terminally ill Bradley Lowery, who has neuroblastoma and is receiving end-of-life care, has put life into perspective for Defoe. And others.
The England international has formed a special, and touching, bond with the six-year-old who has showed such remarkable courage for one so young.
Bradley has been a Sunderland mascot and Defoe was proud to carry him onto the pitch at Goodison Park last season.
Those memories will live with both forever.
The former West Ham and Tottenham favourite, a goalscoring legend, is looking forward to the next stage of his wonderful career.
But when asked about his relationship with brave Bradley, he requested a couple of minutes to compose himself at a Bournemouth press conference yesterday.
As quoted on the BBC Sport website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40524081 – the 34-year-old Defoe said of Bradley: “He’s obviously struggling. I can say it’s a matter of days.”
He wiped away tears as he added: “It’s been hard because I have kept this in for so long.”
He added: “He will always be in my heart for the rest of my life. There isn’t a day that goes past when I don’t wake up and check my phone or think about little Bradley.
“His love is genuine and I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me.”
Bradley led out the England team at Wembley with his ‘best mate’ Defoe for the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania in March.
It was a lovely moment for both, summed up brilliantly by Defoe when he said: “England was special when Joe Hart said to me ‘JD walk the team out with Brad’ and he turned round in the national anthem and grabbed me.
“All these special moments. I just feel blessed.”