Best friends forever: The unbreakable bond between Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe

It was the friendship to beat all friendships.

One was the superstar footballer who had played and scored goals all over the world. The other was a brave little boy from an east Durham village who was battling cancer.

Bradley Lowery with Sunderland players Jermain Defoe (centre) and Vito Mannone during his 6th Birthday Party held at Blackhall Cricket Club. Picture by FRANK REID

Bradley Lowery with Sunderland players Jermain Defoe (centre) and Vito Mannone during his 6th Birthday Party held at Blackhall Cricket Club. Picture by FRANK REID

But their paths were destined to cross, and the story which emerged was one of the sweetest to ever be told.

Jermain described his pal as “an unbelievable young boy.”

He revealed the warmth and love for the Blackhall youngster as he prepared a message for the Best of Wearside Awards earlier this year where Bradley was deservedly announced as the winner of a Child of Courage trophy.

Jermain told how Bradley became a Sunderland mascot.

“He came in and he was sort of like screaming my name. It is really difficult to describe how I felt at that moment.

“It was way beyond football. One of the best moments I have been involved in,” said the striker.

It was one example of an unbreakable bond. Another happened on the pitch.

Bradley and Jermain walked on to the Stadium of Light pitch and warmed up before the match against Chelsea.

Days later, Bradley’s pre-match penalty against Chelsea was nominated for the Goal of the Month competition.

In February this year, Bradley was in hospital receiving chemotherapy when his favourite Sunderland player and his team-mates paid him a special visit.

Who can forget those images of the brave little boy falling asleep cuddling the Sunderland striker in his hospital bed.

Jermain himself, later told the Echo: “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.”

A little boy’s love for his hero grew even stronger when he led England out at Wembley. That same game, Jermain scored on his return to the Three Lions team.

In March, Bradley was back in hospital but his best pal was there to support him. Earlier Bradley had been too unwell to see Jermain but the Sunderland star made sure he still called in soon after to cheer up his little pal.

And then earlier this month, the pair were back together again as the Blackhall boy celebrated his sixth birthday.

“He is a special young boy,” said Jermain in that moving video for our awards night.

A special young boy with the most amazing best friend.