The tragic news that young Bradley Lowery lost his long battle with neuroblastoma saw an outpouring of sadness from the football world on Friday, with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Alan Shearer, and former Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford joining thousands of fans in taking to social media to express their sympathies to his family.
Few would have been hit as hard, however, as Jermaine Defoe as the England striker enjoyed a beautiful friendship with Bradley over the past while which brought smiles to millions of faces and made the Sunderland superfan's last months with his family truly special.
Defoe teared up when discussing Bradley's worsening condition on Thursday night, and admitted that he was heartbroken when the news nobody wanted to hear broke the following day, but now he has taken to his Twitter account to express how much his relationship with Bradley meant to him in a beautiful personal tribute.
Sleep tight little one... ? pic.twitter.com/iGqLXdvlVi
— Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) July 8, 2017
Goodbye my friend gonna miss u lots. I feel so blessed God brought u into my life and had some amazing moments with u and for that I'm so grateful. I'll never ever forget the way u looked at me wen I met u for the first time, the genuine love in those cute eyes. Really finding it hard to find words to express what u mean to me. The way u say my name, ur little smiles wen the cameras come out like a little superstar and the love I felt wen I was with u. Your courage and bravery will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life. You will never know what a difference you made to me as a person. God has you in his arms and I will always carry you in my heart. Sleep tight little one. My best friend.
Defoe can take solace in the joy he brought into his best friend's life, as every moment he spent with his hero was accompanied by a massive smile.
Still, it's clear the young lad also had a massive impact on Defoe, who will play for Bournemouth next season with a heavy heart.
He really has come across as one of football's true gentlemen in his involvement with the Lowrey family, so our thoughts are with all of them at this immensely difficult time.