'My beautiful best friend' - watch ex-Norwich City star James Maddison's special moment with youngster who fought cancer
PUBLISHED: 11:58 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:58 12 December 2018
A former Norwich City star who struck up a close friendship with a Sprowston youngster as she battled cancer has described her as his "beautiful best friend".
Sophie Taylor was diagnosed with bone cancer at the start of January aged just four, and has faced treatment, surgery and countless hospital trips this year.
But the brave youngster is now in remission and, having undergone surgery to amputate part of her leg earlier this year, is waiting to have a new prosthetic, nicknamed her “magic leg” by her family, fitted.
It was in April when she became a mascot for Norwich City that she first got to spend proper time with James Maddison, starting off what has grown to become a close friendship.
The former midfielder has kept in touch with the Taylors, sending her a birthday gift, keeping in touch with her progress and meeting up with the family when time allows.
And earlier this month, he invited Sophie to be a mascot at Leicester’s match against Watford - with the pair even finding time to enjoy a kick around before kick-off.
Posting from the @SuperStrongSoph Twitter account on behalf of Sophie, parents Kirsty and Alex said: “Having a positive role model and idol is a brilliant thing to have as you grow up. @Madders10 is my best friend and he will be a super role model for me to grow up with. I loved playing football with him again and one day I will hopefully do it with a magic leg xx.”
And on Twitter, he replied calling Sophie his “beautiful best friend”.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “She was a mascot at Norwich last year and took a place in my heart ever since. I invited her to watch the England Under 21s against Holland. I gave her my shirt and got the boys to sign it. I invited her to the game on Saturday. I seem to score whenever she is there.”
Speaking about their own mini-match, he said: “Her family were on the sidelines watching me and Sophie kick the ball and they were just smiling. To see them so happy at me doing this little thing for her, that’s priceless.”
Sophie’s fighting spirit has earned her a legion of supporters, with her Take a Sophie message - encouraging people to take photos of themselves defiantly sticking their tongues out at cancer - now printed on t-shirts.