Wright played for the Hammers in 1998-99, during which time Defoe was just breaking into the team and finding his feet.
“When he came at West Ham, when he was really young, all I literally said to him was just hit the target,” the 51-year-old told BT Sport’s Football Tonight show on Monday. “I didn’t tell him anything else.
“But that kind of ability, what Sunderland have bought there, that’s what’s going to save them. That was the difference in the game, a moment of genius.”
Wright was referring to Defoe’s sensational’s strike for Sunderland against Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League on Sunday.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star’s truly sensational goal on the stroke of half time proved to be the difference in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Defoe has been struggling for goals and for form since joining Sunderland from Major League Soccer outfit Toronto FC In the January transfer window.
However, the Englishman remains a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, and he shoed that in one of the biggest games in English football.
For Sunderland to retain their Premier League status for next season, Defoe will have to score a few more goals between now and the end of the campaign.