Thousands line the streets in football colours for funeral of Bradley Lowery

The Devenish

"Bournemouth posted a message on the club's official Twitter feed on Thursday which said: "@IAmJermainDefoe has today departed our pre-season training camp and returned to the United Kingdom for the funeral of Bradley Lowery".

Ahead of the funeral, people filled the streets of Blackhall as Bradley's coffin was taken to St Joseph's Catholic Church - where he was baptised six years ago.

Among the mourners was Bradley's celebrity sporting hero Jermaine Defoe.

A statement from the twitter account @Bradleysfight said the funeral was "open to everyone who would like to come and celebrate Bradley's life and pay their respects to show him how much he was loved".

Sunderland AFC's chaplain Marc Lyden-Smith told the church, plus the thousands of mourners following the service on speakers outside, how football sometimes gets a bad press - but not today.

Father Ian Jackson led the service and paid tribute to his "wonderful personality", adding: "Bradley was a bright, brave, loving, cheeky monkey".

More news: Man City meet Spurs' €56m asking price for defender

Bradley also led out the England team at Wembley, attended the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards and was a special guest at the Grand National.

Sunderland players John O'Shea, Lee Cattermole and Vito Mannone and the club's former manager David Moyes attended the service.

"He has been more than a mascot to Sunderland Football Club, he has been an encouragement to many and a loving smile to all of us".

He was regularly a mascot at Sunderland matches last season and struck up a friendship with Defoe during the final few months of his short life, while his fight against the disease touched the hearts of football fans across the UK. Sleep tight little one.

The footballer, wearing an England football shirt, was seen passing the superhero procession as he joined crowds heading inside the church for the funeral.

Six-year-old Bradley died on Friday after a five-year battle against the cancer Neuroblastoma.

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