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Sunderland Unveil New Signing Jermain Defoe

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If Defoe chooses to go, he does so with his head held high

There is some confusion over whether Sunderland, and indeed professional football, have seen the last of Jermain Defoe. If he has decided to hang up his boots, he has left an indelible mark on this club both on and off the pitch.

Signing off? If so, Defoe’s legacy remains intact
| Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

If, and it seems a big if at present, Jermain Defoe has played his last game of football for Sunderland then I only hope that he is remembered by the fans for what he has achieved in red and white, rather than an ill-fated return to the Stadium of Light.

When he announced he was leaving Glasgow Rangers and the chance was there to sign him in January there were large sections of the fan base who felt he would simply arrive and fire us to promotion. At 39, and having hardly graced a pitch this season, fans who could see through the hype realised that while the sharpness of mind would surely be there, restoring match sharpness was something altogether different.

Age might have been against him, but Defoe has always had a reputation as a fastidious trainer and as such he may have lost a yard, but given the chance, he was likely to be as lethal in front of goal as ever.

Even if his role was as a game-changing substitute history was with him as he held the record for the most premiership goals scored as a substitute, so the track record was decent to say the least.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Here is a player who for this club has been far more than decent. Ask many fans and they will cite his arrival from MLS football with Toronto FC in a swap deal with the mis-firing Jozy Altidore as the best bit of transfer business we have done in a generation.

From 2015 until May 2017, he was little short of a revelation for the club. His goal against Newcastle at the SoL will live forever in the memory of those who were able to witness it. For me his goal and performance in the 3-2 victory against Chelsea was sublime creating an atmosphere that the ground will struggle to surpass.

His friendship with Bradley Lowery transcended sport. Be it walking out with him at a packed Stadium of Light, or when Defoe made one of his 57 appearances in an England shirt, the sheer honesty of Defoe’s fondness for Bradley won him fans across the world.

When he left the club for Bournemouth he was far more than a player who has provided such greater moments on the pitch. He was a man who had shown what humanity was all about.

Whether his signing in January had any bearing on the departure of Lee Johnson we will never really know. However Johnson was never glowing in his anticipation that Defoe would return.

Return he has and the rest of the squad speak highly of him and his application on the training pitch. Alex Neil has looked to use him, but if media outlets are to be believed he has decided enough is enough.

Hull City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Maybe the proud man and professional he is, Defoe has decided that he cannot perform at the level he believes justifies his continued involvement? Maybe he has picked up a knock that will see him side lined for a period and he believes that he simply won’t have the opportunity to be in a position to challenge for a spot in the match day squad before the season ends?

If in the hours or days ahead Defoe makes the announcement, I sincerely hope we will always remember him for his goals, his talent and the way he repeatedly brought a smile to Bradley’s face.

Sometimes a gamble does not pay off and I’m certain it wasn’t for the sake of Defoe doing his utmost for the club and the fans.

Having said that personally, I very much hope that media have got it wrong and he is there to fire home another screamer at Wembley in May signing off with the gift of promotion and cementing his place in Mackem folklore he already justly deserves.

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