Black Cats top scorer Defoe has been an avid supporter of young Bradley who is suffering from a nerve-affecting neuroblastoma.
Defoe and teammates John O’Shea, Vito Mannone and Sebastian Larsson visited the 5-year-old in hospital last month and Bradley fell asleep in the 34-year-old’s arms.
Defoe, who was this week recalled into the England fold and congratulated by his biggest fan, admits how special it was to share such a moment.
“Credit to the club, they organised it for me, Vito [Mannone], John O’Shea and Seb [Larsson] to go down to see him,” he told The Times.
“Bradley jumped up and grabbed me. He said to his mum, ‘Can you turn the lights off?’ and said to me, ‘Can you come into the bed?’ ‘Yes, no problem.’
“He put the covers over me. He just wanted a cuddle. He didn’t want me to go. I held him and he fell asleep. His mum said, ‘You’re going to have to stay all night!’ I said, ‘Someone phone the gaffer [David Moyes], tell him I can’t play at the weekend!’ It was special.”
Defoe retweeted the image of him alongside Bradley and now has it on his locker at the Stadium of Light.
“Every time I look at the picture, it’s emotional,” he says. “I’m trying not to cry. Big baby, me.”Reuse content