English Premiership

Terminally ill Sunderland icon gets special birthday wishes

Bradley Lowery (Getty Images)
Bradley Lowery (Getty Images)

London - Terminally ill youngster Bradley Lowery whose courageous battle with cancer and friendship with Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has made him one of the iconic faces of the football season spent his sixth birthday in hospital on Wednesday.

However, the Sunderland fan - who has a rare form of cancer neuroblastoma - received birthday messages from all corners of the football world.

"Happy Birthday to my best mate @Bradleysfight. Hope you have a special day and I'll see you later this week... #HappyBirthdayBrad", tweeted Defoe, who will attend a party for Bradley on Friday after he is discharged from hospital.

Bradley, who was a special guest at the Grand National in April and was listed as number 41 on the racecard for the great steeplechase with his colours those of Sunderland and Defoe down as trainer, is feeling a little better said his family on Facebook.

"Bradley has had a settled night and he has had a lovely morning opening cards and presents," they posted on Wednesday.

"He is worn out now so he is having a nap recharging his batteries for later.

"We have had lots of fun reading out his birthday wishes on his crowd funding and birthday page. Keep them coming and I'll get through as many as possible."

Bradley, who will not be able to take up champions Chelsea's offer of coming to their home game with Sunderland on Sunday as his family say he is not well enough, will have a tea party in hospital with family.

Bradley - whose hopes of becoming clear of the cancer through radical treatment were dashed in early April as it failed to work - was showered in cards.

Sunderland posted: "Not only is it International Cup final day, but it's also a very special day for @Bradleysfight... Many happy returns little man".

Newcastle, Everton - who contributed 200,000 towards a fund for his treatment when the two clubs played each other back last September - and Chelsea were among other clubs to wish him well, along with official England team Twitter account.

And world governing body FIFA posted: "To wish a very special young man a happy 6th birthday, head to his Facebook page #HappyBirthdayBrad"

Bradley, who had a new tumour detected at the base of his spine in February, has become one of the most iconic faces of the football season aside from his touching relationship with Defoe.

Early in the campaign his name was chanted in the fifth minute by both sets of fans at the Everton v Sunderland Premier League clash, he was joint winner of the Goal of the Month for December -- taking a penalty against Chelsea at half-time of their league clash -- and subsequently received 250,000 Christmas cards.

He also accompanied Defoe out onto the pitch at Wembley when the veteran played for England in the 2018 World Cup qualifier with Lithuania in March.