AN EMOTIONAL Michael Beale said a heartfelt thank you to Sunderland's fans after a touching show of support for his young niece, who is fighting cancer.

Sunderland's supporters rose together in the fourth minute at the Stadium of Light on Saturday in support of four-year-old Poppy, who is battling leukaemia.

Beale was visibly touched on the sidelines, patting his heart in appreciation, and thanked the supporters in an emotional post-match press conference.

"It's hard to speak about it, just thank you to be honest," he said.

"It's hard to talk about."


In his post-match interview with the club website, Beale said: "I just have to say thank you, it's incredible.

"Poppy has been going through it for a long time. She rang the bell, which was a huge milestone last new year, but it's come back. We got some horrible news on Wednesday evening. It's difficult to take but the fans, that was incredible. It was an emotional moment and I just want to say thank you."

Beale's family also thanked Sunderland's fans for their support.

They said: "We've just seen the response from all the supporters at the game. We are so touched, thank you all.

"It's very touching to see you all behind us and Mike too. Lots of love, from all the family."

Beale posted on his Instagram: "Life is so harsh on a little girl and family that deserve so much more. We love you, Pops, you will beat this once again."