Last month I wrote an article about British boxer Nicola Adams and argued that, despite her age of 34, she still had a lot to achieve. England footballer Jermain Defoe is just 19 days older than Adams and he too looks to be blossoming into his 30s. Prior to his recent goal against Lithuania in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory, Defoe had not put on an England shirt since 2013 and just over four years had passed since Defoe had scored an international goal.
Having been snubbed for a spot in the European Championships where England were humiliated by minnows Iceland, Defoe did not give up on the dream of representing England at a major championship. Last season the in-form Sunderland striker netted 15 Premier League goals. The only other England players to find the net more times were Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Dele Alli. But Tottenham were chasing the title and Sunderland were fighting to stave off relegation. This year Sunderland sit rooted at the bottom of the table, yet Defoe has continued to shine, hence his England call-up.
With many of England’s elite failing to impress at Euro 2016, Defoe knows that if he continues to play well then a World Cup spot on the plane to Russia next summer is more than likely as he has the backing of England manager Gareth Southgate. During the last World Cup Defoe was plying his trade at Canadian outfit Toronto FC in North America’s MLS (Major League Soccer). But he felt that not playing in the Premier League was a reason he was left out of the squad.
He believes that his stint away from the Premier League was a key factor in not getting picked for the last World Cup and feels that he will need to leave the Black Cats should they be relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season to keep his dreams alive. Speaking to The Sun, Defoe said: “When I went to Toronto in 2014 I missed out on the World Cup. When I got the call it was hard to accept but you had to be realistic and think the boys I was competing against were playing in the Premier League and Europe and that’s why I missed out.”
Two clubs are already considering the prospect of snapping up Defoe and there could well be more offers to come. West Ham have renewed interest in Defoe after having previously failed to sign him in the January transfer window, but Moyes was adamant that he would not let one of his key players go to West Ham, the club for whom Defoe scored his first Premier League goal on his debut in 2000. Another of Defoe’s exes who will be eyeing him are Bournemouth. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is well aware of the veteran forward’s talent, having played with Defoe during his loan spell in the 2000/01 season.
This might be the last chance Defoe has to pull on an England jersey in an international tournament but many of his teammates previously mocked Defoe for retaining hope that the day would come again. “I was getting a lot of stick from the lads at the training ground because I’ve still got the England flag on my boots. I was hoping one day I’ll get the opportunity and it’s come so I’m delighted,” Defoe continued. But having developed a good understanding of the recovery process and having learned from experience, Defoe continues to become smarter when it comes to preparing himself.
Part of his new recovery regime includes cryotherapy, which is a fancy word for a really cold ice bath, in addition to plenty of massages – as well as attributing his success of late to a vegan diet he recently took up. The #mayberoadtorussia continues for Defoe.
Image courtesy of Paul Blank