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Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League

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#DefoeHomecoming: How JD gave a generation of Sunderland fans their best footballing memories

The return of Jermain Defoe is a bit of a nostalgia trip, but where’s the harm in that?

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Jermain Defoe re-signed in a week that has been absolutely crazy, even by Sunderland standards.

His reunion with Wearside brings back plenty of memories from his first spell here, including reflecting on the often crucial goals he bagged.

Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle United

Watching the Tyne-Wear derby in Northampton was always a surreal experience.

For a small handful of people, it was one of the biggest dates on the calendar. For 95% of other pub-goers, it wasn’t worth a second thought.

The April clash against the old enemy was teetering towards half time, and then the man of the moment stepped up.

When the ball landed at Defoe’s feet, what came next sent a tiny percentage of this midlands pub into a state of delirium.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Seeing the ball loop perfectly over Tim Krul and into the back of the net was a thing of beauty, trying to not spill my pint everywhere was a challenge in itself.

Seeing Defoe visibly moved at the interval following the goal made everyone sit up and realise that he really was one of the few players who ‘got the club’.

Sunderland 3-2 Chelsea

The season after the Defoe blinder in the derby was similar to the last; with a last-ditch leap to safety in late April/ May.

In our 36th match of the campaign, we faced high-flying Chelsea. The fixture wasn’t going to plan, and having fallen 2-1 behind, fears were growing that we would finally be slipping towards a relegation from the Premier League that felt long overdue.

However, our drop to the Football League would be put off for another year thanks to an outstanding turnaround.

On the day of this match, it was my end-of-year summer ball at University. It was an early start in the afternoon, with proceedings getting underway at 6pm, so drinking started in mid-afternoon.

With the match on the radio, my suit was half on when Fabio Borini banged us level with just over 20 minutes to go.

Can in hand, tie around my neck and getting merry, I came back into my halls room just in time to hear the sound of 43,000 Mackems explode.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images

In classic Defoe style, the ex-England man controlled and leathered the ball into the bottom corner.

I hadn’t had much joy following Sunderland that season, but the few seconds following that goal were out of this world.

As a standalone fixture, beating Chelsea is always a great result. In this context, it was priceless, and the goal to win it was good enough to win any fixture in world football.

You may be guilty of falling into the nostalgia trap when it comes to re-signing Defoe, I know I certainly am, but at the end of the day there’s nothing wrong with that.

He may be five years older, and his role on the pitch will be at least slightly different, but Jermain Defoe has given fans of a certain generation some of their best SAFC memories.

Having him back at the club as a role model and a personality, combined with his goalscoring instinct, can only be a positive.

I, for one, cannot wait to see him back in the red and white stripes on Saturday.


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