Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'He Will Be in My Heart for the Rest of My Life'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'He Will Be in My Heart for the Rest of My Life'

Article excerpt

Byline: Hannah Graham Reporter hannah.graham@trinitymirror.com @HannahGraham21

IT'S a friendship that's touched hearts across the nation - and that changed the lives of one Premier League footballer and one very poorly little boy.

When Jermain Defoe first saw Bradley Lowery, he couldn't believe this little ball of energy was the brave cancer battler he'd heard about.

Bradley had arrived in the Sunderland dressing room, along with other young mascots, before he helped Jermain to lead his beloved Black Cats out onto the pitch.

Recalling that first meeting at a press conference for his new club Bournemouth, the striker said on Thursday: "I just couldn't believe he was that young kid that was ill, because he sort of ran over to me, from that moment it was just that instant connection.

"Just his energy in the changing rooms, bossing the other little kids round and stuff like that - he's just a great character."

The pair have stood together in front of crowds of thousands, even leading the England team out at Wembley against Lithuania in March.

Jermain has spoken many times about how meeting Bradley "changed his life", and how he will remember their friendship forever.

"He will always be in my heart for the rest of my life," he said during that emotional press conference.

Even after hundreds of appearances on the pitch over the years, Jermain said that games felt extra special when Bradley was watching.

"I've walked him out on to the pitch on many occasions and for England which was a special moment for Brads and his family and mine as well," he said in May.

"The England one was special because it was my first time back in the squad after a few years.

"I always believe some things are just meant to be, it doesn't just happen by accident or coincidence. "And I just feel like that moment was meant to happen in my life because it was my first time back in, it was Mother's Day, I walked out with Brads, we won the game and I scored. …

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