Alan Stubbs says the “unbelievably inspirational” Bradley Lowery “captured the hearts of the country” - and the former Everton defender is "proud" to be involved in Sunday’s Goodison Park charity match being played in the young Sunderland supporter's name.
Stubbs is set to line up for ‘Bradley’s Blues’ against a ‘Lowery’s Legends’ team in a game to raise funds for the Bradley Lowery Foundation and Everton in the Community.
Bradley made a lasting impact on people across the world with his remarkable courage while fighting neuroblastoma. He died in July at the age of six.
Bradley was a mascot for Sunderland’s home match against Everton in September 2016, after which the Blues donated £200,000 towards his treatment.
Stubbs’ Bradley’s Blues teammates will include fellow ex-Everton players Peter Reid, Peter Beardsley, Graham Stuart, Gareth Farrelly and Tony Hibbert.
A number of well-known personalities – including actor Stephen Graham, singer Olly Murs and Shayne Ward, the Coronation Street star and former X Factor winner – are also set to play in the match.
“I think it is a really fantastic cause,” Stubbs told evertonfc.com. “We all saw over the past year or so, the fight that Bradley went through.
“He put on such a brave face throughout it and he captured the hearts of the country, not just Everton and Sunderland fans.
“That is what is important on Sunday. This is not just a game for Everton and Sunderland. This is a game for all the clubs to show their support.
“It is something that touched everybody, not just the two clubs. It is a great gesture from Everton to hold the game and, hopefully, there will be a really good turn out – because everything is going to a fantastic cause.”
Stubbs played 192 matches across two spells with Everton, before leaving for Derby County in January 2008.
He returned to Goodison as Under-21 coach later that year and stayed until he was appointed boss of Scottish team Hibernian in June 2014.
A boyhood Evertonian, to boot, and the man who skippered the Toffees to Champions League qualification 12 years ago, Stubbs knows the Club inside out.
“It does not surprise me that Everton are involved in such a good cause,” said Stubbs.
“It is an unbelievable club - and I am not just saying that because I was brought up a Blue.
“I was in a dressing room with a group of players who had not had the same upbringing as me in terms of what the Club meant, but they quickly got it and knew what Everton was all about.
“I am very pleased and proud to be playing on Sunday.
“I can appreciate what Bradley’s family went through. They have come through such a horrendous time with a huge amount of dignity.
“I cannot wait to play because I know what it is all for and that is why I am looking forward to the game – although I am probably not looking forward to waking up on Monday morning!
“But if it means going through a little bit of pain and discomfort to raise money and awareness for such an unbelievably inspirational boy, then it will be worth its weight in gold.”
Bradley's Blues vs Lowery's Legends at Goodison Park kicks off at 3pm on Sunday 3 September.
Fans can buy tickets online here, over the phone on 0151 556 1878* or from the Goodison Road ticket office.
* Booking fees apply to telephone sales.