Sam Allardyce has heaped praise upon Jermain Defoe for his sensational performance this season, but believes that the entire Sunderland squad can take some of the credit for the 33-year-old's success, the Sunderland Echo reports.
The former England forward has scored 18 goals in all competitions this term, including 15 in the Premier League. And with his composed finish on Saturday giving them a vital three points against Chelsea that lifted them out of the relegation zone, Allardyce believes that Defoe deserves a lot of credit, as do the rest of the team.
"18 goals in all competitions, in a team that has been in the bottom three all season is a miraculous return," he told the Sunderland Echo.
"He hasn't been starved of service though, for a struggling side we have given him some good service, some good opportunities to score.
"We have served him well in that department. For me, it is a pleasing factor that he scores goals consistently up front."
The dramatic victory against the Blues moved them above Newcastle and four points clear of Norwich, meaning that a win against Everton on Wednesday will confirm their survival. And while all of the side's players and staff will be viewed as heroes if they manage to stay up, it will perhaps be Defoe that deserves more credit than any other player in the squad.
With Defoe 10 strikes clear of the Black Cats' next highest goalscorer in the league, it is safe to say that his goals have been a key reason why the club go into the final two games of the campaign with their destiny in their own hands.
Although Defoe's absence would have seen someone else play in his place, and may have seen that player improve their own tally, it is difficult to imagine that their goals would have proved as important as Defoe's have.
Without the forward's contribution, Sunderland would be 15 points worse off than their current position, which would have left them just three points above bottom side Aston Villa, and well adrift of safety.