Bradley Lowery 'no longer responsive', family say

Terminally-ill Bradley Lowery, who has touched the hearts of the nation with battle against a rare form of childhood cancer, is no longer responsive, his family say.

The six-year-old, who has neuroblastoma, has deteriorated quickly in the last few weeks.

On Wednesday, his family posted on Facebook saying he was "close to the angels" but was "fighting to stay with us".

But, on Thursday, they updated his page, saying: "Bradley has had a settled day, he is no longer responsive but we know he is listening to everything we say. He is fighting so hard it's heart breaking for us to watch."

The post went on: "When the time comes there will be a update on his page first before anywhere else. Thank you for all your kind words and support."

It comes after footballer Jermain Defoe, who has formed a close friendship with Bradley, broke down as he said it was now "only a matter of days".

Defoe wiped away tears as he reflected on their special bond at a press conference for his new club Bournemouth.

The striker requested two minutes to compose himself before saying: "It has been difficult. I have kept this in for so long.

"I have tried to be strong for my family and his family but I don't know how to put into words how I feel. It's a special time, having that special time with Brads.

"The first moment I met him I could not believe he was the young kid who was ill because he ran over to me. From that moment, there was an instant connection.

He added: "There is not a day that goes past where I do not wake up in the morning and check my phone or think about little Bradley because his love is genuine and I can see it in his eyes. It is special."

Bradley performing his mascot duties. Credit: PA

The pair met when Bradley was a mascot for Sunderland while Defoe was at the club.

Since then they have became "best friends" with the footballer attending Bradley's sixth birthday party and regularly visiting him.

They spent time together last week after his family threw a party.

The youngster had asked to have a party with his cousins and girlfriend and pictures showed him cuddling up to the football player.