'We miss you and love you' - Jermain Defoe sends special birthday wish to best friend Bradley Lowery

Former Sunderland footballer Jermain Defoe has paid tribute to his best friend up in heaven on what would have been his seventh birthday.

Bradley Lowery's friendship with striker Jermain Defoe touched hearts around the world - and in the final month of the little boy's life, the pair were inseparable. Defoe visited Bradley both at home and in hospital. The footballer was also the guest of honour at Bradley's sixth birthday party, held in Blackhall last May.

He lost his life in July after a brave battle with neuroblastoma cancer. Hundreds of people descended on Bradley's home village for his funeral, wishing to pay their respects to the courageous little boy with the infectious smile.

Families across the world will remember Bradley today, while mum Gemma Lowery plans to mark the day with a skydive at Shotton Airfield in her boy's memory.

And the special little boy is also in Defoe's thoughts, with the star posting a heartfelt message on Twitter to more than 990,000 followers.

The tribute said: "Bradley would have been seven years old today. I know you’re up there smiling down on us, especially your mum, dad and brother, and I bet you’re throwing another memorable party.

Bradley Lowery with best friend Jermain Defoe.

Bradley Lowery with best friend Jermain Defoe.

"Happy birthday, mate. We miss you and love you more than you’ll ever know."

Read more: Picture special - remembering Bradley Lowery's sixth birthday party

The best friends spent many special hours together, both on and off the pitch.

Sunderland-mad Bradley was by Jermain's side at the Stadium of Light as a mascot. They also joined forces to represent their country on the pitch at Wembley in March 2017, ahead of an England fixture.

The friends at the Stadium of Light.

The friends at the Stadium of Light.

*Have you got a birthday message for Bradley to share? You can post yours on our social media pages.