There was scarcely a football fan unmoved as Bradley Lowery led England on to the pitch to face Lithuania alongside his “best friend” Jermain Defoe.
The five-year-old Sunderland fan, who has neuroblastoma, has struck up a friendship with the striker, with Defoe and other Black Cats stars visiting him in hospital when he was undergoing life-prolonging treatment.
And when he led the Three Lions out for their World Cup qualifier alongside a recalled Defoe, more than a few fans found they suddenly had something in their eye.
— England (@England) March 26, 2017
The moment was even more special as England’s new captain Joe Hart stood aside to allow Bradley and Defoe to go on to the pitch first.
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) March 26, 2017
And it was a moment for football fans to cherish.
The Jermain Defoe / Bradley Lowery relationship is enough to warm the coldest of hearts. Absolutely fantastic.
— Derek Potter (@Theonlyhorseguy) March 26, 2017
Young Bradley Lowery is leading the England team out today with his best mate Jermaine Defoe. Magical. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/mVRXNcOG7O
— The Away Fans (@theawayfans) March 26, 2017
How lovely seeing Bradley Lowery with his best friend Jermain Defoe walking out at Wembley for England.
— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) March 26, 2017
So touching @IAmJermainDefoe has Bradley Lowery as his mascot for his England return! What a guy!
— Liam Franklin (@LiamFranklin) March 26, 2017
Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe's relationship is possibly one of the best things in football right now
— glen (@GlenNotGlenn) March 26, 2017
Somewhat inevitably, it was Defoe who opened the scoring for England too.
Jermaine Defoe scores and Bradley Lowery lead the team out! #perfect 👌👌
— Niall Heaton (@niall143) March 26, 2017
Just one problem – the noise was apparently a bit too much.
The event was all the more special as, when Bradley was first told he would be a mascot for the game, the idea that Defoe would have been in the team was pretty far fetched.
Before the game, Bradley’s mum Gemma, from Blackhall, County Durham, told Radio 5 Live: “To find out Jermain is going to be there as well just totally topped it off for him.”
She added: “At the very beginning it was just amazing. It was his dream come true, his hero, Jermain. Now he just calls him his best friend – it’s just normal for him.”