Raheem Sterling will pay for the funeral of Crystal Palace youth player Damary Dawkins, who died of leukaemia.
The Manchester City and England forward supported the campaign by Damary’s family to find a suitable stem cell donor after Dawkins was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
He had became close to the youngster, who died aged 13 last month. Sterling is due to attend the service in Dagenham on Friday.
“Damary was a special young man who touched a lot of lives, including my own. Positive until the end, he was an example to us all,” Sterling said.
The footballer paid tribute to Dawkins by lifting his England shirt to reveal a picture of the two of them together following his second goal in the 5-0 win over the Czech Republic last month.
Alongside the picture were the words: “May Your Soul Rest in Peace”.
Damary’s father Tony last month revealed how the friendship between the player and his son developed.
“I knew that they used to speak because (Sterling) came down to the hospital, they played pool together and apparently they swapped numbers,” he told the Press Association.
“I remember when Crystal Palace played Manchester City and they lost Damary put on his tracksuit with the Crystal Palace badge and took a picture to send to Raheem. They had banter with each other.
“(The shirt tribute) was very, very touching and fitting. I know Damary touched his heart.”