Bradley Lowery, the six-year-old football mascot who bravely battled cancer, has died.
The Sunderland fan struck up a close friendship with striker Jermain Defoe after he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
In a statement on the family’s Facebook page, Bradley’s mother Gemma Lowery said: “My brave boy has went with the angels today 07/07/17 at 13:35, in mammy and daddies arms surrounded by his family.
“He was our little superhero and put the biggest fight up but he was needed elsewhere.
“There are no words to describe how heartbroken we are.
My brave boy has went with the angels today 07/07/17 at 13:35, in mammy and daddies arms surrounded by his family. 💔💔💔…
“Thank you everyone for all your support and kind words. Sleep tight baby boy and fly high with the angels.”
Sunderland AFC paid tribute to Bradley, tweeting: “The thoughts of all at SAFCare with the Lowery family following this afternoon’s sad news.
In a moving statement, the club wrote: “Bradley captured the heartland minds of everyone at our club with his indomitable spirit, tremendous courage and beautiful smile, which could light up even the darkest off rooms.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) July 7, 2017
“Despite battling neuroblastoma for much of his all too short life, he demonstrated a bravery and fortitude beyond his years that humbled us all. He was truly an inspiration.”
Gary Lineker tweeted: “Terribly sad to hear that little Bradley Lowery has passed away. A warrior and an inspiration to the end. RIP Bradley.”
Former England star Stan Collymore posted: “Would love to think @FA and @premierleague could mark @Bradleysfight by way of a trophy or award to commemorate and incredible life.”
Boxing legend Frank Bruno wrote: “My thoughts and prayers are with Bradley and his family, your beaming smile will never be forgotten nor your amazing strength to fight.”
West Ham United tweeted: “You inspired us all with your bravery. Rest in peace, Bradley Lowery.”
Defoe broke down in tears on Thursday at a press conference with his new club Bournemouth when asked about their special bond.
He said: “There is a not a day that goes past where I do not wake up in the morning and check my phone or think about little Bradley because his love is genuine and I can see it in his eyes.”
Bradley was a mascot for Sunderland several times last season and moved thousands of football fans across the world.
Supporters of different clubs made banners and chanted his name at games.
He was an England mascot at Wembley when Defoe scored on his return to the national side. VIA