Premier League striker Jermain Defoe has revealed he has ‘mixed emotions’ over receiving his OBE, mainly because of the death of his young friend, Bradley Lowery.
The AFC Bournemouth star said he feels ‘blessed’ to receive the prestigious award, but told fans via his social media, ‘it isn’t for me or about me’.
The 35-year-old formed a relationship with Bradley during his time at Sunderland, as the youngster battled an ultra-rare cancer, neuroblastoma.
He was regularly picked to be a mascot for his beloved Sunderland FC while Defoe was there.
Following the announcement of being honoured with an OBE for his services to the Jermain Defoe Foundation, he took to Twitter to reveal how he’d happily give it all back.
In his tweet Defoe wrote:
The proudest moment of my life to be awarded an OBE. I‘m blessed to have received the honour, but it isn’t for me or about me.
It’s for Bradley and those he loved. I’d trade it all for him to be back in our lives, forget the goals and awards, it’s the memories I’ll cherish…💙
The proudest moment of my life to be awarded an OBE. I‘m blessed to have received the honour, but it isn’t for me or about me. It’s for Bradley and those he loved. I’d trade it all for him to be back in our lives, forget the goals and awards, it’s the memories I’ll cherish…💙 pic.twitter.com/Dcxua0t7bC
— Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) June 8, 2018
Defoe’s award comes just under a year after Bradley’s death. The six-year-old died on July 7, 2017.
Continuing to express his sadness, Defoe told Sky Sports:
It’s obviously mixed emotions because obviously standing here [is] one of the proudest moments of my life, but at the same time remembering all the hurt.
I’ve got great memories of Bradley in my head but it wasn’t easy seeing someone that you love suffer like that, especially a young kid, where he didn’t really understand what was going on and you have to remain positive.
Defoe is said to have found out the news of the honour over the phone from his mother, while he was on holiday in Dubai.
He said he was looking forward to telling Bradley’s mother, who lives in Blackhall, County Durham, and the rest of his family:
I can’t wait to tell Gemma, I think she is the first person I am going to tell to be honest and I know she will be happy, she will be proud.
It’s at the top because I feel like this is something completely different. I am proud of it to be honest. It’s important to just give back and try and help others.
Bradley would have been seven years old today. I know you’re up there smiling down on us, especially your mum, dad and brother, and I bet you’re throwing another memorable party. Happy birthday, mate. We miss you and love you more than you’ll ever know… 💙 pic.twitter.com/h0gnNdR4cO
— Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) May 17, 2018
Bradley was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk Neuroblastoma in January 2013.
His mother Gemma kept fans and well-wishers updated on a regular basis about his condition and revealed her son’s cancer was progressing quicker than first thought.
In a Facebook post on July 7 last year, Gemma gave the heartbreaking news:
My brave boy has went with the angels today 07/07/17 at 13:35, in mammy and daddies arms surrounded by his family.
He was our little superhero and put the biggest fight up but he was needed else where. There are no words to describe how heart broken we are.
Thank you everyone for all your support and kind words. Sleep tight baby boy and fly high with them angels.
The Jermain Defoe Foundation was set up in 2010 after a hurricane in St Lucia, the Caribbean island his grandparents came from.
He said the charity hopes to open a home for abused and vulnerable children there in the next few weeks and added the foundation has now expanded to help children in Dominica as well as the UK.
Congratulations to Jermain. Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Bradley.
The Bradley Lowery foundation supports all families who need to fundraise for medical treatment or equipment not available on the NHS. If you’d like to donate, you can do so by clicking here.