Former Pompey player Jermain Defoe praises 'best friend' mascot Bradley Lowery

Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
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Former Pompey footballer Jermain Defoe has paid tribute to six-year-old mascot Bradley Lowery as his 'best friend' and said he will continue to inspire him.

Bradley, whose battle with a rare childhood cancer captured hearts, died at home in Blackhall, County Durham, in his parents' arms on Friday, surrounded by his family.

Screen grab image taken from the Twitter page of Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) of a message paying tribute to six-year-old mascot Bradley Lowery who died after bravely battling a rare childhood cancer. Picture: Jermain Defoe/PA

Screen grab image taken from the Twitter page of Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) of a message paying tribute to six-year-old mascot Bradley Lowery who died after bravely battling a rare childhood cancer. Picture: Jermain Defoe/PA

He struck up a close friendship with the England and Bournemouth striker who hugged Bradley when the boy joined the footballer as a mascot on the pitch ahead of matches.

Defoe tweeted: 'Goodbye my friend gonna miss u lots.

'I feel so blessed God brought u into my life and had some amazing moments with u and for that I'm so grateful.

'I'll never ever forget the way u looked at me wen I met u for the first time, the genuine love in those cute eyes.

'Really finding it hard to find words to express what u mean to me.

"The way u say my name, ur little smiles wen the cameras come out like a little superstar and the love I felt wen I was with u.

'Your courage and bravery will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life. You will never know what a difference you made to me as a person.

'God has you in his arms and I will always carry you in my heart. Sleep tight little one. My best friend.'

A week before his death, Bradley and Defoe were pictured snuggled up together at the youngster's home after the little boy had a party in bed as a way of saying goodbye.

Bradley was a mascot for his beloved Sunderland several times last season and struck up a remarkable friendship with the club's top scorer Jermain Defoe.

The youngster was also a mascot for England at Wembley and saw the man he called his 'best friend' score in a World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania in his comeback game.