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Josh Maja talks about coming through at Sunderland & learning from Jermain Defoe

Former Sunderland striker Josh Maja has spoken about coming through the ranks at Sunderland, and what it meant to him to be able to learn from Jermain Defoe.

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Despite most league across Europe restarting after the lockdown, the French leagues were officially ended for the season back in April.

Now in the Ligue 1 off-season, Bordeaux striker Josh Maja has spoken to YouTube channel Touchline Fracas about numerous topics and discussed his Sunderland career in the process.

The former Sunderland player said his time at the club was great, with how much he got to learn after training with the first team at the Academy of Light so soon after joining the club:

My time there overall was great obviously because of what I was able to achieve and being able to go from Sunderland to Bordeaux.

Obviously from the start, going through the youth, I was able to learn a lot and obviously progress my game and was able to get guidance from coaches and obviously from training in the first team at such a quick period.

So obviously I was there and maybe six, seven, eight months into getting there I started training with the first team.

Training with the first team I was able to learn a lot, they have quality players playing Premier League football and it was a time where I was able to progress my game and come up against bigger, stronger players and that was a good opportunity for me and I was able to keep learning, keep working on my game and just getting advice from experienced players.

The 21-year-old heaped more praise on another former Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe for taking him under his wing and giving the Nigerian international advice:

The senior players were great, in the training sessions there was always that pressure to perform and to keep the high standards.

Going in there, Jermain Defoe was probably one of my biggest admirers because I think he just liked the fact that I was good at finishing.

He liked me a lot and was able to give me advice on different tips, different ways of finishing, disguising keepers, disguising defenders, short back lift, different techniques and it was a good time because Sunderland were doing well, I was learning and I was getting experience and I was enjoying my time.

There were a few, I’d say Defoe just because small sided games, he was the go to guy. If you had him in your team, you were likely to win.

So I’d say him but there were a lot of quality players because there was Wahbi Khazri, there was Patrick van Aanholt, there was Jan Kirchoff, a lot of talented players, so it was obviously a blessing to be able to play with them consistently.

He was also asked about the club’s rivalry with Newcastle United and revealed that he actually played in an under-18 derby when he initially joined the club on trial:

When I went there on trial, I played in a derby and it was intense, it was, it was physical, tackles flying in, the weather was terrible...but it was a good experience and I think I did okay in the games. If you win the game you got bragging rights and everyone’s talking about it...until the next fixture. They did their thing a few times but it was a good battle.

You can watch the full interview with Josh Maja by Touchline Fracas by pressing play on the YouTube video below.