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Jermain Defoe reveals his disgust at sick Sheffield Wednesday fan who mocked the death of Bradley Lowery… as the former Sunderland striker opens up on his ‘special’ relationship with the six-year-old cancer victim

Jermain Defoe has revealed his disgust at the sick Sheffield Wednesday fan who taunted Sunderland supporters by mocking the death of Bradley Lowery.

Dale Houghton, 32, was seen laughing as he held up an image of the six-year-old cancer victim on his phone during a Championship match at Hillsborough in September. The yob was later given a 12-week suspended prison sentence.

Defoe struck up a special friendship with Bradley – who died from neuroblastoma in July 2017 – during his playing days at Sunderland.

Asked how he felt about what happened at Hillsborough, he told Mail Sport: ‘You just think, “What kind of world are we living in to do that?”.

‘I think you need to have a conscience. That feeling you get when you see someone else upset. To do something like that, where it is calculated, it is hard for me to understand.

Former Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe has revealed his disgust at a sick Sheffield United fan who mocked the death of Bradley Lowery

Former Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe has revealed his disgust at a sick Sheffield United fan who mocked the death of Bradley Lowery

Defoe struck up a special friendship with Lowery who tragically passed away from neuroblastoma in 2017

Defoe struck up a special friendship with Lowery who tragically passed away from neuroblastoma in 2017 

Dale Houghton, pictured arriving at Sheffield Magistrates Court, was charged with a Public Order offence after he was seen laughing while holding up a photo of Lowery

Dale Houghton, pictured arriving at Sheffield Magistrates Court, was charged with a Public Order offence after he was seen laughing while holding up a photo of Lowery 

‘You know you are not going to get away with it. Surely, they have got family members with kids so can understand what Gemma and Carl (Bradley’s parents) had to go through.

‘For me, it was hard to see that. I couldn’t actually believe it. I thought, “Am I actually seeing things? What are these people actually thinking?”

‘Surely the human side of you would be like, “I can’t do that”.’

Defoe first met Bradley when he was invited to be a mascot at Sunderland’s Premier League game against Chelsea in December 2016.

‘I remember sitting in the changing rooms before the game and hearing this little kid make a lot of noise,’ recalled Defoe.

‘He ran into the changing rooms and just jumped on my lap and started speaking, full of energy. I could tell he was so excited to see me.

‘I was like, “Woah, this is different to anything I have experience before”. He looked at me and was so genuine.

‘After that, I remember being down the tunnel and speaking to his mum and dad and I tried to understand what was going on with the cancer. 

The striker had first met the young fan when he was invited to be a mascot at Sunderland’s Premier League game against Chelsea in 2016

Defoe recalled Lowery was 'full of energy' as he ran into the changing rooms and jumped on his lap after the match

Defoe recalled Lowery was ‘full of energy’ as he ran into the changing rooms and jumped on his lap after the match

‘I went to hospital and saw Brads and then after that I obviously wanted to spend more time with him.’

A new film about Defoe’s life, released in selected cinemas at the end of this month, documents his heartwarming relationship with Bradley, including when he flew back from holiday to visit him at home just days before he died.

‘That relationship was really special,’ added Defoe. ‘He gave me such a good feeling.

‘Maybe it was because of all the stuff I’d been through before that – with people trying to take advantage and that pain – then all of a sudden I met someone and it was so genuine.

‘A person who just loves being around you and always seemed to have a smile when I walked in the room. When Brads passed away, it was really tough. 

The 41-year-old said he 'wanted to spend more time with Lowery' after visiting him in hospital

The 41-year-old said he ‘wanted to spend more time with Lowery’ after visiting him in hospital

The former England striker said that his 'head was all over the place' after learning of Lowery's passing

The former England striker said that his ‘head was all over the place’ after learning of Lowery’s passing 

A new film about the striker's life, called 'DEFOE' is set to be released at the end of February and will document his heart-warming relationship with Lowery

A new film about the striker’s life, called ‘DEFOE’ is set to be released at the end of February and will document his heart-warming relationship with Lowery

‘I had just signed for Bournemouth and was on the plane to Spain. At that stage it was close.

‘I landed and I got a phone call from someone. When I got the call, my head was all over the place.

‘I’d just signed for a new club and you want to make a good impression, but my head was just in a different place.’

DEFOE will be in UK cinemas for one night only on February 29. Tickets are available at defoethefilm.co.uk

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