Well, it seemed to drag on for ages, didn’t it?
He was signing, then it was off, then it was stalling before finally being concluded late on deadline day - but Jermain Defoe is a Sunderland player once again.
I must admit, I personally didn’t think it was ever going to happen. I thought despite the bond with the club and supporters, a more attractive offer would come in for him. Maybe from the Championship, or maybe he’d fancy a move closer to London or at a Southern club.
But I was wrong, and I was as excited as anybody when we got the news he was signing.
From a professional point of view and putting my ‘sensible’ head-on, it makes complete sense. We’ve been crying out for a striker for a while, and heaven forbid anything happens to Ross Stewart. Stewart has done fantastically this season but we ask a lot of him. To hold the ball up, make the runs in behind and then score goals as well is a tough ask.
Defoe is a natural goal-scorer. It doesn’t matter which club he’s been at or who he’s played alongside. You can’t put a price on someone that scores regularly at any level.
But the signing is of more than just a goal-scorer.
It’s bringing a club legend back to the club for a sentimental return. You could see when he scored that beautiful goal against Newcastle in the derby in 2015 that he was emotional and had tears in his eyes. His passion and enthusiasm endeared him to the Sunderland faithful, arguably more than his goals did.
Of course, there was the off-field bonding with Bradley Lowery that struck a chord with thousands of people up and down the country and worldwide. That Defoe has kept in contact with the family, despite not playing for the club for almost five years, is a testament to the character of the man.
As a club we have been down in the doldrums for quite a while without any sustained ‘lift’. We’ve had Wembley trips (and losses), the odd notable result and different managers and owners to stir the excitement temporarily but nothing like this.
The signing of Defoe and the potential arrival of a new manager (at the time of writing it looks odds on to be another emotional return...) has brought a feel-good factor back to the place.
We’ve got Doncaster Rovers at home on Saturday, and what better time to get the SOL rocking.
We’ve had around the 30,000 mark this season for home games but I’d be staggered if it’s not closer to 35,000 this time.
If you’re reading this and think ‘I’m not sure’, I'd urge you to get yourself there.
Buy a ticket, ask a family member to go, or even go alone. I’m sure you’ll get talking to a fellow Sunderland fan and even make a new friend. You don’t want to miss Defoe’s ‘homecoming’ and it will be a one to tell the Grandkids about in years to come.
There’s also the brilliant initiative driven by the club in partnership with the Bradley Lowery Foundation. £1 from every matchday ticket sold will go to the charity.
Going to the game and helping a charity is a double-bonus really... just if you needed that little bit extra incentive.
We’ve seen already that with a strong home record and a passionate, noisy following we can really cause problems for teams at the SOL.
Doncaster are a poor side and if we get the place roaring and as full as possible - I can only see three points for Sunderland come 5pm Saturday.
Haway the Lads.
Over 3⃣4⃣,0⃣0⃣0⃣ tickets have been snapped up ahead of Saturday's game on Wearside!— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) February 3, 2022
The Stadium of Light is going to be rocking! ❤️