26/03/2017 20:36 BST

Terminally Ill Bradley Lowery Leads Out England With Best Mate Jermain Defoe

'Bradley has touched so many hearts, we are so proud of our little boy'.

Shaun Botterill via Getty Images

Bradley Lowery, the five-year-old who is bravely fighting a rare form of cancer, was given the honour of leading out England at Wembley with his favourite player, Jermain Defoe.

Captain Joe Hart swapped places with striker Defoe so he and Bradley could be the first on the pitch ahead of England’s triumphant World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

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Bradley Lowery covers his ears as he walks out with Jermain Defoe at Wembley.
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Bradley is fighting neuroblastoma and has formed a bond with his ‘best mate’ Defoe, who plays for his favourite team, Sunderland. The pair embraced while waiting in the tunnel and he has previously fallen asleep in the arms of the forward in his hospital bed.

Hart, who was captain for the day, would normally have lead England out. The youngster traveled up to the game in first class and will return to the North East to continue treatment.

His mother, Gemma, has spoken of how thrilled her son was to be a mascot. She said:

“Bradley is so excited to be mascot for England. He has spoken about it every day since we told him. Bradley has touched so many hearts, we are so proud of our little boy.”

An appeal for funds for Bradley’s treatment has has so far raised £700,000. England won 2-0, with Defoe scoring the first goal on his return to the side. 

Shaun Botterill via Getty Images
Reuters Staff / Reuters
Shaun Botterill via Getty Images