Jermain Defoe has revealed his disgust at the sick Sheffield Wednesday fan who mocked Sunderland fans by mocking the death of Bradley Lowery.
Dale Houghton, 32, was seen laughing as he held up a picture of the six-year-old cancer victim on his phone during a championship game at Hillsborough in September. The bandit was subsequently given a 12-week suspended prison sentence.
Defoe struck up a special friendship with Bradley, who died of 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 do we live in to do that?’
‘I think it is necessary to be aware. That feeling you get when you see someone upset. Doing something like that, where it is calculated, is difficult for me to understand.
Former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has revealed his disgust at a sick Sheffield United fan who mocked the death of Bradley Lowery.
Defoe formed 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 offense after he was seen laughing while holding a photo of Lowery.
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‘You know you’re not going to get your way. They probably have family members with children, so they can understand what Gemma and Carl (Bradley’s parents) had to go through.
‘For me, it was difficult to see that. I actually couldn’t believe it. I thought, “Am I really seeing things? What are these people really thinking?
‘Surely your human side would say, “I can’t do that.”‘
Defoe first met Bradley when he was invited to be a mascot at Sunderland’s Premier League match against Chelsea in December 2016.
“I remember sitting in the locker room before the game and hearing this kid making a lot of noise,” Defoe recalled.
‘He ran to the locker room, jumped on my lap and started talking, full of energy. I could tell he was very excited to see me.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is different than anything I’ve ever experienced before.'” He looked at me and was so genuine.
“After that, I remember being in the tunnel and talking to his mom and dad and trying to understand what was going on with the cancer.
The striker met the young fan when he was invited to be a mascot at Sunderland’s Premier League match against Chelsea in 2016.
Defoe recalled that Lowery was “full of energy” when he ran to the locker room and jumped on his lap after the game.
“I went to the hospital and saw Brads and then obviously wanted to spend more time with him.”
A new film about Defoe’s life, released in select theaters later this month, documents his touching relationship with Bradley, including when he returned from vacation to visit him at his home just days before he died.
“That relationship was really special,” Defoe added. ‘It gave me such a good feeling.
“Maybe it was because of everything I’d been through before, with people trying to take advantage and that pain, and suddenly I met someone and it was so genuine.”
‘A person who loves to be around you and always seemed to have a smile when he walked into the room. When Brads passed away, it was really hard.
The 41-year-old said he “wanted to spend more time with Lowery” after visiting him in the hospital.
The former England striker said his ‘head was all over the place’ after hearing of Lowery’s death
A new film about the striker’s life, called ‘DEFOE’, will be released at the end of February and will document his touching relationship with Lowery.
“I had just signed for Bournemouth and was on the plane to Spain. At that moment it was close.
‘I landed and got a phone call from someone. When I got the call, my head was all over the place.
“I had just signed for a new club and you want to make a good impression, but my head was somewhere else.”
DEFOE will be in UK cinemas for one night only on February 29. Tickets are available at defoethefilm.co.uk