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CONFIRMED: Jermain Defoe's Mackem love affair is over; signs three-year deal with Bournemouth

The worst kept secret in professional football was today confirmed as Jermain Defoe leaves Wearside to join Premier League outfit AFC Bournemouth.

Jermaine Defoe
Jermain Defoe playing for Bournemouth as a youngster
Getty Images

Jermain Defoe has today signed for Premier League side Bournemouth on a free transfer after a two-and-a-half year stint at the club, scoring 37 goals in the process and leaving behind a legacy that will last long in the hearts and minds of the Sunderland supporters.

He joins the south coast club, managed by Eddie Howe, after they activated a release clause in his contract following Sunderland's relegation to the Championship.

The news, confirmed by Skysports, comes as a shock to no-one - speculation that Defoe could leave the club was rife even before the season ended and the man himself confirmed that he was set to join the Cherries whilst away on international duty with England last month.

The England international made 93 appearances for the lads and was our top goalscorer during the time he wore red and white by a substantial margin, bagging 30 goals in the last two seasons and winning player of the year twice.

His form for Sunderland earned a call up to Gareth Southgate's England side and he manged to get a goal against Lithuania, making him only the third Sunderland player to score for England since World War Two.

He was held in incredibly high esteem by Sunderland fans for his work ethic, professionalism and of course his goals. However, he'll be perhaps remembered best on Wearside for the special relationship he had with young Sunderland supporter Bradley Lowery. Bradley's strength and resolve has been an inspiration to many and the love that Defoe showed him is something that has earned him both respect and adoration from people outside of the footballing bubble.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Premier League
We all remember THAT goal
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Bournemouth are signing one of the best players in Sunderland's Premier League history and he will no doubt prove to be an excellent addition to the south-coast side. His leadership and goals were a crucial part of our survival in 2015 and 2016, unfortunately it wasn't enough to keep us up and keep him here this time round.

We'll certainly miss him.