On Friday the ex-Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe picked up his OBE at Buckingham Palace and since his last outing on the pitch was at St James Park last weekend, I thought I would challenge the norm and celebrate something with one of ‘them from down the road’ here.
When he was subbed on last weekend for Bournemouth in the 82nd minute, Jermain Defoe was widely booed by large swathes of our home support, and whilst I ‘get it’ because he was part of the unwashed set up for some time, it also did not sit well with me.
Despite having a skinful on the day, I didn’t join some of those around me in the castigation of the man for whom I developed heaps of respect. After the way he opened his life and his heart to a dying little boy who was so absolutely full of love and wonder that he touched people from all walks of life and reminded us that ‘cancer has no colours’ and that at the end of the day, when things get seriously real, football is JUST A GAME…
As the boos rang out, I stood amongst those around me and declared “I’m not having that, no way, not for what he did for Bradley!”
Let us not forget, this multi-millionaire did not have to open his life up to this smiling but suffering child who simply posed love.
He could have done what so many others do (and I’m not knocking them for it), simply paid him a single visit and have his people send him some merchandise now and then. But he didn’t, he developed a bond and declared him as a best friend. He did none of this for publicity, he did it out of love. If in any doubt just think back to the funeral pictures of him breaking down.
His OBE was awarded for services to his (Defoe’s) foundation, but true to Bradley’s memory and despite it being well over a year since his passing in the summer of 2017, Defoe remained classy and dedicated it to Bradley. A little boy who clearly had a huge impact on his life, and reminded us all just how fragile our existence here is, but also how important remaining joyful and finding the wonder and happiness in everything can be.
So yes, I will post red and white on the page today, I will not ever boo this soccer star with a true heart!
I will respect Jermain Defoe for his stance and for the way he opened his life and his heart to a little boy who offered to give him nothing more than love and a warm smile.
Respect to you Mr Defoe OBE
Paul Ferguson – Author of the Scunthorpe Mags fan group
(Ed: Jermain Defoe picked up his OBE on Friday at Buckingham Palace for services to his foundation which was launched in 2010 after a hurricane in St Lucia, the Caribbean island his grandparents came from.
It has since expanded and supports homeless, vulnerable and abused children in St Lucia, surrounding Caribbean Islands and the UK.
“There’s so many people I can thank, like my mum, my sister, people involved in the foundation.
“The volunteers, people involved in the shoebox appeal. All those that worked for the foundation over the years.
“I would love to dedicate this amazing day, this OBE to my little friend Bradley, everyone knows the relationship I had with Bradley. I’ve got this for the Jermain Defoe Foundation but above all of that I think it’s the relationship I had with him that was special.
“You never expect to receive any award, so to receive something like this, of course it still hurts. I’ve got some great memories of Bradley, but to receive something like this today, it makes me feel good.”)