Tributes have poured in from across the world for Bradley Lowery, who has died from terminal cancer.
The Sunderland fan, six, was diagnosed with a rare cancer aged 18 months old and went on to become “best mates” with his hero, striker Jermain Defoe.
After the announcement of his death by his family on social media, thousands took to Twitter to offer condolences.
In a statement, Sunderland Football Club said: “Bradley captured the hearts and minds of everyone at our club.”
The England football squad, for which Bradley was also a mascot, tweeted: “There’s only one Bradley Lowery.”
Alan Shearer tweeted: “So sorry that little @Bradleysfight has passed away. An inspirational life cut way too short. Thoughts with his amazing family & friends RIP.”
Gary Lineker, who hosted the Sports Personality Of The Year awards at which Bradley was a special guest, tweeted: “Terribly sad to hear that little Bradley Lowery has passed away. A warrior and an inspiration to the end. RIP Bradley.”
In its statement, Sunderland FC said: “[Bradley’s] 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.”
Everton FC donated 200,000 to a cancer treatment fund when Bradley was mascot for the match between the club and Sunderland.
Chairman Bill Kenwright said: “We are so privileged to have known him… and will always be proud that he chose us as his second club.
“We send our loving thoughts to his family… plus those who were inspired by him throughout the world of football.”
Newcastle United tweeted: “Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Bradley Lowery and all who supported him throughout his brave battle.”
The world governing football body, Fifa, tweeted: “Today, the football world lost one of its bravest fans. Rest in peace, Bradley Lowery.”
There were also tributes from the world outside football.
Durham Cricket Club tweeted a video of the crowd applauding his memory ahead of its game against Lancashire.
Julie Elliott, Labour MP for Sunderland Central, tweeted: “Bradley packed so much into his short life. My thoughts are with his family & friends on this very sad day. RIP Bradley Lowery.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Heartbreaking to hear that Bradley Lowery has died. I’ll never forget images of Defoe & Bradley when he was Sunderland and England’s mascot.”
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