Sunderland AFC have led the tributes to inspirational six-year-old Bradley Lowery, who has died after a long battle with neuroblastoma.
The brave youngster, from Blackhall Colliery, passed away surrounded by his family at 1.35pm today, a post on the Bradley Lowery’s fight against neuroblastoma Facebook page confirmed.
He was truly an inspirationSunderland AFC
Bradley touched the hearts of people across the globe after his story was brought to worldwide attention when he was mascot for Sunderland’s game against Everton last September.
The Black Cats supporter was also mascot for the club’s match against Chelsea, and built up a touching friendship with former Sunderland star Jermain Defoe.
The club has paid tribute to Bradley online.
In an article posted on Sunderland’s website, the club said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Bradley’s parents, Gemma and Carl, his brother Kieran and their family and friends.
“We extend our love and support to them, now and always.
“Bradley captured the hearts and minds of everyone at our club with his indomitable spirit, tremendous courage and beautiful smile, which could light up even the darkest of rooms.
“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.”
The club added: “His heart-warming friendship with players and staff alike epitomised the impact this wonderful little boy had on everyone he met.
“He had a special relationship with Jermain Defoe and their feelings for each other were evident for all to see. Jermain, naturally, is heartbroken.
“Bradley’s story not only touched our club and our fans, but also the wider football community.
“Football can be a powerful force for good and our sport came together to embrace Bradley’s fight in a unique way.
“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to every club and fan who supported Bradley in recent months and showed such warmth and kindness to the Lowerys – we are truly grateful.
“Throughout his illness, Bradley’s family and friends have worked tirelessly to increase awareness of this brutal disease.
“Their fundraising campaign, initially for Bradley’s treatment and subsequently to raise money for the foundation that will bear his name, will ensure that other youngsters and parents facing the devastation of life-threatening illnesses will have the help and support they so desperately need.
“Bradley’s passing will have a profound effect on everyone and we understand that people will want to reach out to support the Lowerys.
“We would kindly ask on their behalf however, that that they are given the privacy they need as a family at this most unimaginably difficult time. We will continue to support them in whatever way we can.”