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Returning Players: Jermain Defoe

Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Returning Players Series’. In this edition, we look at Jermain Defoe. Defoe joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2004 and made a return to the club in 2009 after one year at Portsmouth.

Returning Players – Jermain Defoe

First Spell at Tottenham

Jermain Defoe will be a legend to Tottenham fans forever and his name is very much enshrined in the clubs’ history. After Bobby Zamora joined West Ham United from Spurs in February 2004, Defoe went the other way. The forward was just 21-years-old at the time and Spurs manager David Pleat was delighted to grab Defoe for £7 million. It would prove to be a bargain.

Defoe started life at Spurs with a debut goal against one of his future clubs, Portsmouth, in a 4-3 win at White Hart Lane, and his love affair with the North London club was underway.

Defoe netted his first hat-trick for Spurs in December 2004 during a 5-1 demolition of Southampton in the league and was voted Player of the Year by the clubs’ fans at the end of the campaign.

Defoe’s reputation, and tally of 22 goals in all competitions, was catching the eye of other clubs in the Premier League. But in April 2005, Tottenham staved off any interest by offering the striker a new four-and-a-half-year deal which he duly signed. However, the following season didn’t go quite so well for Defoe, scoring just nine goals. This was in no small part due to manager Martin Jol preferring the strike partnership of Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov on most occasions.

Boxing Day, 2006 saw Defoe bag his 50th goal for the club, but the arrival of Darren Bent in 2007 led to speculation that Defoe would be struggling for game time and would leave the club. Instead, he remained until the January transfer window of 2008 when he finally left Spurs for Portsmouth for £7.5 million.

Teams That Jermain Defoe Played for in Between

Continuing his penchant for scoring goals on his debut, Defoe netted against Chelsea. He was then not able to play against former club Tottenham Hotspur as his initial move had only been on loan. Defoe scored on each of his first five appearances for Portsmouth, making him the first-ever player to do so, and once more found himself popular with fans.

Defoe was further unable to play in the FA Cup for Portsmouth as he had already turned out for Spurs in the competition, meaning he missed out on featuring in Portsmouth’s FA Cup winning run. He also missed out on a winners’ medal for the League Cup Final, where Tottenham beat Chelsea, but he was later given a winners medal in December 2018.

Only one year after joining Portsmouth from Spurs, rumours started to circulate that Defoe was heading back to White Hart Lane once more.

Return to Spurs

Defoe’s return to Spurs was a protracted affair, with Pompey boss Harry Redknapp not happy with the money Tottenham were putting on the table for the striker. Eventually, Tottenham negotiated a fee of £15.75 million, despite Pompey wanting to hold out for nearer to £20 million for the player.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was able to bring the price down as Portsmouth still owed money to Tottenham for the earlier signings of defender Younes Kaboul and Pedro Mendes. Levy had also put a sell-on clause in the contract for Defoe a year previously but waived that £4 million knowing that Pompey were suffering well documented financial troubles.

Defoe was presented to a very happy crowd ahead of the match against Burnley and the love affair between Tottenham and Defoe began once more and he remained at Spurs between 2009 and 2014.

Impact Defoe Had on Spurs Return

November 22, 2009, saw Defoe score five goals along with scoring the second-fastest hat-trick in the history of the Premier League in the 9-1 thrashing of Wigan Athletic. His hat-trick was scored in an incredible seven minutes and his five goals put him in the revered company of  Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, who were the only other two players to have scored five goals in one match at the time.

Hat-tricks were all the rage for Defoe and in February, he netted his third trio of the season against Leeds United in an FA Cup replay.

Defoe grabbed his 100th goal for Spurs in a win over West Bromwich Albion as his status as a Spurs legend was cemented.

It was hat-trick time again for Defoe in November 2012 when his trio of goals meant he overtook Teddy Sheringham on the all-time goalscorers list for Spurs before he drew level with another club legend in Alan Gilzean after netting against Manchester City in April.

Defoe makes an impact wherever he goes and despite leaving Spurs in January 2014 for the MLS, he even managed to make two more appearances for the club when Toronto loaned him back until February 2014 in a somewhat bizarre set of events. He ended his Spurs tenure with 143 goals from 362 appearances.

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