LONDON: Bradley Lowery was treated to the night of his life when he led his beloved Sunderland out at the Stadium of Light before their game against Chelsea.
The five-year old – who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer – has endeared himself to the heart of the nation after his tragic story saw thousands donate to help fight the rare disease he suffers.
Young Bradley is fighting the spreading disease for a second time and a weak immune system means he will not be able to mix with people in the coming weeks.
However, he looked in fine spirits when he met strikers Jermain Defoe and Diego Costa and even took a penalty against Asmir Begovic. Having found a way to score past the Chelsea goalkeeper, Bradley then had to lead the team out of the tunnel before kick-off.
Inspired by his bravery, home and away fans around the Stadium of Light joined in united and rapturous applause in the fifth minute of the match.
The youngster was also Sunderland’s mascot for a match earlier this season, and the Toffees went on to donate £200,000 towards his appeal. But he later told his mother and father that he had a dream of scoring a goal for the Black Cats at their home ground, so the club worked hard to make sure it happened.
Last week, Bradley’s parents were told that his cancer had spread, leaving them with a tough choice between further treatment or stopping it all together. They are yet to announce their decision.
He is set to have a brilliant Christmas regardless, with Sunderland sending him to Harry Potter World while a campaign – run by family friend Lynn Murphy – saw him receive thousands of Christmas cards from all over the world.