Bradley Lowery: The little boy who led out England while fighting his own battle

Bradley Lowery captured the hearts of millions when he led England out on to the pitch at Wembley today.

Bradley Lowery hugs Jermain Defoe on the Wembley pitch

The cancer-fighting five-year-old, whose story has touched people across the world, was England’s mascot for their World Cup qualifier with Lithuania at Wembley.

Bradley, from Blackhall in the North East of England, has built up a strong relationship with Sunderland AFC striker Jermain Defoe and other Premier League players over recent months - appearing as the club’s mascot on a number of occasions throughout his battle with terminal neuroblastoma.

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Many of them visited Bradley in hospital while he underwent life-prolonging treatment.

Bradley Lowery in Wembley

The chance to appear as a mascot at Wembley was a dream come true for the football-mad youngster - and his hero Defoe.

As Bradley concentrated on being the national team’s mascot, Defoe was celebrating being recalled to the England squad after four years.

Ahead of the event, Bradley's mum, Gemma, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “To find out Jermain is going to be there as well just totally topped it off for him. “For him to just be in the dressing room when Bradley goes in is going to be absolutely fantastic for him.”

“It gives us memories we can obviously carry with us for the rest of our lives as well.”

Bradley Lowery with Jermain Defoe on the Wembley pitch

Bradley was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2013, undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and numerous operations. The initial treatment proved to be a success and the brave youngster was declared to be in remission in 2015.

But sadly the cancer returned last year and now he is undergoing pioneering antibody treatment to prolong his life.

Bradley Lowery in Wembley
Bradley Lowery with Jermain Defoe on the Wembley pitch