What ex-West Ham and Spurs star Defoe has just said about the Bradley Lowery and Sheffield Wednesday story

Jermain Defoe has hit out at a fan’s ‘deplorable’ mocking of his close friend Bradley Lowery and his memory.
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Jermaine Defoe has slammed a football fan who mocked Bradley Lowery during a clash between Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday. Lowery died of Neuroblastoma in 2017 at the age of six, with former Tottenham and England striker Defoe becoming a close friend of the young Sunderland fan during his battle with illness.

Dale Houghton, 31, admitted causing harassment, alarm and distress at court on Monday after showing an enlarged picture of Lowery to Sunderland fans from the away end during Wednesday’s away clash with the Black Cats on Friday night. Houghton, who is from Rotherham, was told his actions were ‘utterly deplorable’ by District Judge James Gould, who also warned that sentence options could include jail. Sentencing will take place on November 17, and he has been released on bail.

Speaking to the MailOnline about the incident, Defore said: “I’m appalled and saddened by the actions of the individual in question. My thoughts at this time go out to Gemma and Carl [Bradley’s parents], who shouldn’t have to deal with incidents like this, but rather be praised for the amazing work they are doing with the Bradley Lowery Foundation in their son’s memory. I urge the public to stand behind the family and continue to support the Foundation and its projects. Bradley was one of the most inspirational children this world has ever seen, and he will never stop inspiring us. We love and miss you Brad. Love, your best friend forever.”

Bradley’s mother Gemma said in a victim impact statement read to the court: “This image made me feel so many emotions. I find it hard to put into words. It is not just disrespectful to Bradley but also to other people who are going through the emotional trauma of dealing with cancer. This image portrays negatively. I feel upset that these two men used this image to get a reaction from Sunderland fans. It was unforgivable. I have nothing but loving memories of Bradley.”

Houghton, who admitted to being high on cocaine at the time of the incident, will be sentenced on November 17 while, in the meantime, Sheffield Wednesday fans have raised thousands of pounds in Lowery’s name, with the Bradley Lowery Foundation saying it is ‘so overwhelmed’ and ‘thankful’ for their support.