He went and scored again didn’t he? Jermain Defoe is a Sunderland legend; it’s as simple as that. He shows no signs of ageing and that photo of him coming out of the tunnel in the captain’s armband was a thing of beauty. But what if he got injured?
It’s a horrible thought. He’s never really had any more than one or two games out injured since he joined in a swap deal with Jozy Altidore (it feels good to say that out loud doesn’t it?) in January 2014. But the luck of the land says there’ll be a point when we’re going to have to live without him at some point. His goal to game ratio since he joined is quite frightening. If you counter in the fact that he spent 6 months of it effectively playing left back when Dick Advocaat was here, it looks even better.
In total, Defoe has scored 21 goals in 46 appearances, consistently finding the net and being a source of positivity for the fans, despite having to player under 4 different managers in Poyet, Advocaat, Allardyce and now David Moyes. He is exactly what we hoped we would get and more. A lethal goal scorer yet an incredibly down-to-earth human being. The tears he has shed in big derby games, to the tears shed in games against Chelsea at the back end of last season, have almost started a trend. Dick Advocaat and Younes Kaboul have both cried uncontrollably, but the latter 2 both quit the club months after joining. Jermain just gets it.
A footballer’s words can be very hollow, but every time the man opens his jaw he speaks about the importance of the fans. "Loyal", "fantastic" and "you just want to win it for them" are phrases Defoe seems to gush about on a regular basis. The young players around him, Duncan Watmore for example, just seem to love playing beside him. The pitch side interview during pre-season between them both just reeked of positivity and team spirit that I have no doubt is spearheaded by Defoe. The former Spurs man is the first to talk them up too. As a late mistake from the impressive Jordan Pickford was mentioned in his post-match interview, he was the first to comment on how much the young Washington boy kept us in the game. Positivity.
This bloke loves scoring & he loves scoring them for us. With John O’Shea not becoming a first team regular, you’d expect Lee Cattermole to be the man wearing the captain’s armband, but for me, you look no further than little Jermain. His encapsulates everything good about the club. A love for football, a love for the city and a passion for wanting to do well for the fans. Don't forget that he's also supremely fit, remaining in great condition despite his impending 34th birthday in October, so for me, he has more than 3 years left to continue banging the goals in.
Comparisons to the great Super Kevin Phillips are coming around with every passing game; however I liken him to someone else entirely. There was a man who joined us in his 31st year back in 1997. The same man, we were told, was past his best and not going to give us what we needed. A has been and a beanpole I believe were the tags used to describe a certain Mr Quinn, yet he retired in 2003, a full 6 years later, scoring 61 goals, whilst playing the best football of his career & becoming Ireland’s all-time top goal scorer while he was at it. Even before his take-over of the club, Sir Niall Quinn had become a Sunderland legend because he bought into the idea of the city, the club and the fans. In fact, he literally bought into it eventually! He became part of the best forward line the club had ever seen alongside Kevin Phillips, his performances over his years at the club still talked about in Wearside folklore.
Now whilst I’m not going to assume Jermain has any plans to get together a consortium and buy out a certain Mr Short in a few years, it’s safe to say we’ve found ourselves a legend. Enjoy him while we can.