After only a season and a half, fan-favourite Jermain Defoe is fast becoming a legend at the Stadium of Light. At 33 years of age, he may not have as many seasons left as fans would like, but if he continues as he is for Sunderland then he will be remembered alongside the likes of Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn, Marco Gabbiadini and Gary Rowell as a player that will forever be in the hearts of Mackems everywhere.
The Director of Football role is not one that can be talked about without a sense of disappointment and occasionally anger. Sunderland’s Director of Football during the 2014/15 season, Lee Congerton, must be applauded for one masterstroke. A genius piece of business which no one thought possible. Misfiring striking disaster Jozy Altidore was having a torrid time on Wearside and seemed way out of his depth in the Premier League.
Somehow, Congerton managed to convince Toronto FC that a swap deal involving Jermain Defoe going to Sunderland would be a perfect and fair deal. Much to the delight of everyone Toronto accepted the deal. Sunderland offloaded their goal-shy forward and gained a proven Premier League and international striker in Defoe.
Although not match fit, the initial signs were good. He only scored four league goals, but it was in a struggling side which narrowly avoided relegation. He also played out of position many times during this spell. One of those goals was a wonder strike against Newcastle United that sealed a valuable three points for the Black Cats. His celebration after the goal showed what it meant to him and it quickly made him a hero.
This season he has gone from strength to strength, especially since Sam Allardyce took over from Dick Advocaat. He is the club’s top scorer with 18 goals in all competitions, 15 of those coming in the Premier League. Unbelievably 11 of those goals have come in 15 away games. It makes him the third highest English goalscorer this season behind Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane. With Sunderland at the other end of the table to Vardy’s Leicester City and Kanes’s Tottenham, it makes the statistic even more impressive.
His goals have been vital to Sunderland this season and having to play as a lone striker, a role in which many thought he could not perform, makes his season even more impressive. His vital winner against Chelsea at the Stadium of Light recently could be the difference maker in Sunderland’s fight to stay in the top-flight.
Calls have been made for England manager Roy Hodgson to select him for the England side and if he were included few could argue. Many Sunderland fans will be relieved if Defoe doesn’t make Euro 2016, even if it is to the dismay of many around the country. If he went to the tournament and picked up an injury, the Black Cats would be without their main goal threat for many crucial games, and that doesn’t bare thinking about if you’re a Sunderland fan.