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Jermain Defoe kept England in the World Cup with 'a move Ian Wright taught me'

Heart-whelming documentary on Jermain Defoe’s career made it difficult not to appreciate the goal scoring wonder!

Jermain Defoe has become renowned as one of the most consistent English goalscorers in recent times, and in a documentary screen last night by ITV he opened up to many key points in his life which made him who he is today.

Getting into football

He clearly showed a good passionate attitude to just enjoying football from an early age, commenting on this being the happiest part of his life due to just doing what he enjoys. He famously played for one of the most respected Sunday league sides in Senrab FC, well known for producing other England players such as Lee Boywer, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Ledley King.

Controversial move from Charlton to West Ham

Charlton Athletic signed the incredibly talented striker, who they expected to be a major part of their club for years to come. Two-years-later, he signed a professional deal with West Ham who in the end were forced to pay £1.4 million for the player decided by a tribunal. He said that at the time there was a lot of stuff being said on the situation and he didn’t understand half of it, but dismissed it was down to greed and said that the decision was made for the most fundamental reasons like travelling to training, and playing with friends which is understandable. He said once he had made the move and saw his footballing hero Ian Wright in the same dressing room; he knew he had made the right decisions – training regularly with the Arsenal legend.

West Ham days

Obviously his time at West Ham is full of ups and downs but the start to his career couldn’t have been much better. He was flagged down from his warm-up late into a league cup match against Walsall, where he came on and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win. Reminiscing about the goal, he said that ‘celebrated like crazy, felt like a dream’.

He then went on loan to Bournemouth, who were in the 3rd tier of English football and went on to break a club record with 10 goals in 10 consecutive games. The fans and management were in awe of the incredibly talented young player, Harry Redknapp remarking ‘’he’s a kid with a big future’’

He started to become a prominent figure in the West Ham set up, but unfortunately ended his career there on a sour note after he famously handed in a transfer request LESS THAN 24 HOURS after the club were relegated to the Championship, he has since expressed deep regret at his actions and understands it may never be a good place for him to go:

‘’To this day I can imagine West Ham fans look at me and think, ‘who does he think he is? How can you do that? You’re a judas.’ And it’s quite sad really because I can honestly say I still love that club’’

On the fame and bad tabloids

The player was earmarked as ‘bad egg’ early on his career being a target for the press and this was crossing over into his football, clearly unhappy, he had a lot of off the field incidents to contend with and was sent off an unprecedented 3 times in the season, commenting on the period in his life:

‘’You’re young, you’re successful, you earn a lot of money, you attract girls. Your life changes. If someone says they don’t like the attention they’re lying. I’m only human.’’

Starting his Tottenham legacy and Initial England upset

Jermain Defore quickly became an instant success at Tottenham scoring on his debut and becoming ever present on the score sheet. His form saw him called-up to the senior England squad for the first time after impressing Sven Goran Eriksson, after his first call up just before the Euro 2004 tournament he said that he wasn’t expecting to be involved but was happy to be around the squad. He came onto the scene finally for England when he scored with a fantastic turn and shot, set up by England legend David Beckham.

The player went on to play a huge part for both Spurs and England but unfortunately for the player he had to endure a torrid couple years, where he was in and out of the Spurs team and was inexplicably left out the final World Cup squad for Theo Walcott, despite being part of all the qualifying games. He still questions the decision Sven took, but holds no hard feelings against Theo Walcott calling the opportunity a fantastic moment for him, and his family.


He signed for Portsmouth in January 2009, after manager Harry Redknapp said that he needed game time, confidence and belief in him to bring the best out in him. The former West Ham manager was correct and he quickly became a success at Portsmouth, although an unfortunate turn of events meant that he came away without a cup winners medal. Portsmouth went on to win the FA Cup but due to being cup-tied the player couldn’t feature, if that wasn’t bad enough, his former club went on to win the League Cup so didn’t get recognition from that either. On the situation he said ‘’God doesn’t make mistakes, I just thought something even bigger was around the corner’’

Tottenham Return and World Cup 2010

Harry Redknapp moved to Tottenham and brought his former striker with him, although initially it looked like a move may not happen due to differences in valuations, but a deal was negotiated and Defoe said ‘’it was like going home’’. He had three things on his mind and that was scoring goals, getting into the England set up and getting a place on the plane to the World Cup.

After an incredible run of form and an inspired performance against Holland just before the squad was announced, he recalls the feeling when Fabio Capello told him he had finally made the cut after three previous disappointments ‘’I got the phone call… was the best feeling in the world’’

Incredibly, he credited the goal that kept England in the World Cup to a training ground move he had learnt 10 years earlier with footballing hero Ian Wright. He said ‘’I remember Ian Wright holding me, holding me and then telling me to go’’ and he used that very move to score the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Slovenia, which progressed England on into the competition.

Family Life and Charity Work

Jermain Defoe has dedicated a lot of his later career to charity and his family, doing a lot of wonderful things in his native country of St. Lucia and supporting his family through a ‘curse’ that has seen 3 of his close family members pass in recent years.

The inspirational striker was asked by the reporter ‘Describe your career in one word’ Defoe replied ‘Goals man, wait does that count as two’ with a smile on his face, it’s plain to see he is still in love with the game.

image: © pahudson

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