Bradley Lowery with his best mate Jermain Defoe

When it comes to football I am completely obsessed with the game, I always have been and always will be no doubt.

I am lucky enough to make my living writing about the game I love. At times though the game brings up issues that make you realise what is really important in life.

The late great former Liverpool boss Bill Shankly once said, “”Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”

The great Scot was obviously not being literal, but it just shows the passion that some people have for the beautiful game. However, of course, football is not a matter of life and death.

On Friday, six-year-old Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery passed away after bravely battling a rare form of Leukaemia. The youngsters battle has been well publicised in the media, as he caught the attention of the British public with his infectious grin and sheer bravery.

It truly hit home for me as somebody who has a son that is close to Bradley’s age. I cannot imagine how his poor family and friends are doing right now. Our hearts go out to them in their time of sorrow.

A true inspiration

I have followed Bradley’s story since Everton played Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last season. Bradley’s parents were desperately fund-raising to give Bradley an experimental treatment in the US I believe.

Everton’s donation of £200,000 seemed to raise the plight of the youngster and introduced the football world to a truly inspiration little boy. He made many public appearances and in everyone despite his illness, he seemed to be smiling and happy, enjoying his life.

Too many of us take our lives for granted. Yet here was a little boy, who was terminally ill laughing and smiling. He was enjoying his time on this planet and making us, grown-ups look stupid for worrying about petty things in life.

Football can come together

Football fans get a bad rap sometimes. Negative incidents endure hours of coverage on television, websites and in newspapers.

However, the support and the fundraising efforts by people involved in football are casually ignored. Football people doing good deeds and being supportive is not sexy. It does not sell newspapers or get people to visit websites.

The effect that little Bradley has had on the football community shows that rivalries are put to one side when it comes to life and death. I have seen messages from fans all over the country on forums and social media paying their respect for Bradley.

One football person who was particularly involved with Bradley was England striker Jermain Defoe. The veteran star, of course, played for Bradley’s beloved Sunderland until a recent switch to Bournemouth.

Defoe developed a lovely friendship with young Bradley and got to know the youngster and his family really well. He visited Bradley a lot and the youngster called the striker his best mate.

Like fans, footballers are usually only highlighted when they are in trouble. However, what came across from Bradley’s story is that footballers are just human beings.

Defoe deserves credit for the special relationship he enjoyed with Bradley. His strength of character and simple caring nature has shone through. No doubt, he brought a lot of happiness into the life of Bradley.

Rest in peace Bradley

Bradley’s passing on Friday devastated the country. Many parents around the country will have tried and failed to put themselves in Bradley’s parent’s place. It is impossible to imagine being in that position.

No words can soothe the pain of Bradley’s friends and family at this point. I just hope that the support that they are getting throughout the country will prove to be some small comfort to them.

The football world is here for you in your time of need. Bradley will never be forgotten and his story will live on. I am sure I speak for everybody at Soccernews when I say rest in peace little man and you will never be forgotten.


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