Hundreds of tributes have flooded in to commiserate over the death of the football mascot, Bradley Lowery, who lost his battle with a rare cancer on Friday.
The six-year-old touched hearts across the world after appearing as a mascot for Sunderland several times over the course of the last season, after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma at just 18 months old.
In a statement on the family’s Facebook page, Bradley’s mother Gemma Lowery said: “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 angel.”
There's only one Bradley Lowery. pic.twitter.com/dzW6mB9lAN— England (@England) July 7, 2017
The youngster, who struck up a close friendship with England striker Jermain Defoe, was instantly recognisable for his beaming grin and passion for his club.
Bradley and Defoe were pictured snuggled up together at the youngster’s home in Blackhall, County Durham last week after the little boy had a party in bed as a way of saying goodbye.
Your bravery and strength was a true inspiration to us all. Rest in peace, Bradley. 💙 pic.twitter.com/Y2tZDXvB3T— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 7, 2017
As Bradley continued to fight for life, Defoe broke down in tears on Thursday at a press conference with his new club, Bournemouth, when he was asked about their special bond.
The Premier League star said: “There is not a day that goes past where I do not wake up in the morning and check my phone or think about little Bradley because his love is genuine and I can see it in his eyes.
“It is special.”
Terribly sad to hear that little Bradley Lowery has passed away. A warrior and an inspiration to the end. RIP Bradley.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 7, 2017
Former Leicester star and football commentator Gary Lineker tweeted: “Terribly sad to hear that little Bradley Lowery has passed away.
“A warrior and an inspiration to the end. RIP Bradley.”
He was joined in his tribute by Sunderland Football Club, the team that Bradley had come to love so much, and teams across the country who expressed grief at his loss.
Supporters had hoped a massive fundraising effort last year could get him to the US for pioneering treatment, but his heartbroken family announced at Christmas that his cancer was terminal.
Bradley was an inspiration to everyone. Our thoughts are with you all at this sad time. May he rest in peace.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 7, 2017
They kept his many well-wishers around the world up to date by using social media and in his final days, his mother, Gemma, revealed that Bradley’s health was deteriorating quickly.
You inspired us all with your bravery. Rest in peace, Bradley Lowery. pic.twitter.com/KOkoQlSZd3— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) July 7, 2017
Former England striker Stan Collymore said the football authorities should create a lasting tribute to the little boy.
He wrote on Twitter: “Would love to think @FA and @premierleague could mark @Bradleysfight by way of a trophy or award to commemorate an incredible life.”