Jermain Defoe is counting his blessings after being chosen to receive a royal honour on Friday, but says the award is also bitter-sweet due to the death of his young friend last year.
Defoe, 35, has been appointed an OBE for the charitable work of his foundation.
But the Bournemouth star said the moment was filled with "mixed emotions" almost a year after the death of Bradley Lowery, a six-year-old battling neuroblastoma who Defoe had befriended.
"It's obviously mixed emotions because obviously standing here [is] one of the proudest moments of my life," Defoe said. "But at the same time remembering all the hurt.
The proudest moment of my life to be awarded an OBE. I'm blessed to have received the honour, but it isn't for me or about me. It's for Bradley and those he loved. I'd trade it all for him to be back in our lives, forget the goals and awards, it's the memories I'll cherish...💙 pic.twitter.com/Dcxua0t7bC— Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) June 8, 2018
"I've got great memories of Bradley in my head but it wasn't easy seeing someone that you love suffer like that, especially a young kid, where he didn't really understand what was going on and you have to remain positive."
Defoe was alerted to the honour by his mother. He said couldn't wait to celebrate with his family.
"I can't wait to tell Gemma, I think she is the first person I am going to tell to be honest and I know she will be happy, she will be proud," he said.
And he was quick to rank it among his life's top achievements.
"It's at the top because I feel like this is something completely different," he said.
"I am proud of it to be honest. It's important to just give back and try and help others."