Picture special: The heartwarming friendship between Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe

The best friends smile together for a photograph. Picture: PA.
The best friends smile together for a photograph. Picture: PA.

The bond between Bradley Lowery and hero Jermain Defoe really was something special.

The pair were inseparable from the moment Bradley visited the Stadium of Light to meet his favourite team, before taking to the pitch as a Sunderland mascot in 2016. At the time, Defoe played striker for the Black Cats.

In the final months of Bradley’s life, the now-Bournemouth player spent a lot of time in his company.

He visited him at home, went to the hospital in his free time and attended Bradley’s sixth birthday party as a guest of honour.

Read more: Jermain Defoe’s tribute to Bradley Lowery is one of most retweeted posts of year

Since Bradley’s death, one year ago today, Defoe has stayed close to the youngster’s family and become involved in the charity set up in his name - The Bradley Lowery Foundation. It works to raise funds and awareness for other children who need support.

Last month, the footballer was awarded an OBE for his services to his own charitable foundation. Speaking to the media, he dedicated the award to Bradley and his family.

Related content: ‘Sleep tight little one’ - Jermain Defoe pens touching tribute to best friend Bradley Lowery

Defoe has been praised by fans, pundits and footballers alike for the time he spent with Bradley, and the obvious affection between the two of them.

Paying tribute to the six-year-old when he passed away last year, the striker said: “I feel so blessed God brought you into my life and had some amazing moments with you, and for that I’m so grateful.

“I’ll never, ever forget the way you looked at me when I met you for the first time, the genuine love in those cute eyes.”

More to read: Jermain Defoe on scoring that goal for Bradley Lowery

Click through our picture gallery above to remember some of the great times Bradley and his hero shared. Their touching time together will never be forgotten.

More on Bradley: Gemma Lowery hails Jermain Defoe for incredible impact on son