Norfolk

Super Strong Sophie: Footballer friend leads tributes

Sophie Taylor Image copyright Kirsty Taylor
Image caption Sophie Taylor, five, fought cancer but died on Friday

Tributes have poured in following the death of a five-year-old girl who won the heart of a Premier League football player.

Sophie Taylor, from Norwich, died early on Friday morning, a year after being diagnosed with bone cancer.

Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, who met Sophie when he played for Norwich City, said she was "the bravest person I've ever met".

Hundreds of people have posted tributes on her Facebook and fundraising pages.

Sophie, who was a huge football fan, met Maddison in April 2018 when she was a Canaries mascot.

She made such an impression on the 22-year-old that he invited her to Leicester City in December, after moving clubs, calling her his "beautiful best friend".

Sophie said Maddison was a "very special person".

Image copyright Instagram
Image caption James Maddison posted a message on Instagram after Sophie died

In a post on Instagram on Friday, he said: "Rest in Peace my little Angel. I love you always and forever."

Sophie, who has an older sister and younger brother, was diagnosed with the rare osteosarcoma in her knee, thigh and lungs in January 2018.

Following her death, parents Alex and Kirsty Taylor posted a poem on Facebook.

"We plan to use her journey to make positive impacts in fighting cancer and also open people's eyes in the way we had ours opened," Mr Taylor said.

"Childhood cancer journeys are horrific but we will work to support improving it in Sophie's name and welcome others to joining her work in the future."

The family aims to make a lasting legacy through the Super Strong Sophie Sparkle campaign.

Image copyright NSFT/Charlotte Loades
Image caption Nurses at the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust got on board the #takeasophie campaign

A #takeasophie social media campaign was started last year after her dad Alex took a photo of her sticking her tongue out.

Supporters of the campaign with the slogan "Stick your tongue out to cancer" included celebrities, sports people, chefs and schools taking pictures of themselves with their tongues out.

Money raised will go towards a project "that enables Sophie to be remembered forever, and at the same time will support children that find themselves in similar positions to her".

Norwich City held a minute's applause for Sophie before their game against Birmingham on Friday

The club said it was "saddened" to hear its "little warrior" had passed away.

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