The Black Cats striker thanked the struggling clubs' fans and acknowledged that his goals are needed now more than ever.
Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has told the club's official website that he is delighted to have been voted as their player of the year by supporters and admitted that when he arrived on Wearside he wanted to leave a legacy.
The 33-year-old was handed the honour in recognition of an impressive first full campaign at the Stadium of Light in which he has netted 16 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions, with 13 of those coming in the league.
The former England striker, who scored just four times in 19 matches last season after joining in January from MLS side Toronto FC, admitted he was honoured to have been recognised by the club's supporters.
However, he acknowledged that his personal success is not the primary concern, and knows that it is now more than ever that the club need him to keep finding the net.
Defoe told the club's website: "I’m happy because this is an award that comes from the supporters. The fans appreciating your hard work throughout the season means a lot to me.
"It’s my first full season at the club and when I got the call to come here I got so excited, as all I wanted to do was come here, score goals, express myself and show the fans how good I am. When you come to a football club, especially one this size, you just want to leave a legacy and you want to come back one day after you’ve retired and feel welcome.
"You want the fans to appreciate you and appreciate all the work that you put in, so it’s a great feeling because it’s not always easy to come into a new club and hit the ground running. I’ve been delighted with the amount I’ve scored but the work isn’t done and we have four massive games. Rhe goals are needed more than ever now."
Defoe's ambition of leaving a lasting legacy on Wearside would be realised if the club can stay up, as it is his goals which have formed the foundation of their survival bid.
The striker has scored either the winning goal or a vital strike in a draw on no fewer than seven occasions this season, scoring the matchwinner goal or goals three times, and it is probably fair to say that his exploits will be remembered as the primary reason for the Black Cats survival if they battle to safety.