Jermain Defoe says he owes career to two people as veteran striker announces retirement

Jermain Defoe, Sunderland striker announces retirement

Jermain Defoe has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 39 after a nomadic career that saw him play for no less than eight different clubs over a 22-year career.

The striker’s final game came during a second spell at Sunderland, when he came on as a substitute during Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Lincoln. The Black Cats were a club close to Defoe’s heart and it seems fitting his final appearance in the game was for the Wearsiders.

At his peak, Defoe was regarded as one of the best strikers in the game. Taking in spells at Tottenham, West Ham, Bournemouth and Portsmouth, he amassed numerous goals in England.

He also played overseason, with a 2014 spell with Toronto, while late in his career enjoyed a new lease of life under Steven Gerrard at Rangers. He also played for England, representing his country at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships. In total, he scored 20 goals in 57 games for the Three Lions.

Announcing his retirement, Defoe lifted the lid on the difficult decision he faced.

“After 22 years in the game, I have decided to retire from professional football,” he posted on Instagram.

“It’s been a really tough decision, and one I have discussed with my family and those closest to me.”

Defoe is the ninth highest scorer in Premier League history, having hit 162 goals in 496 appearances.

“I made my professional debut at 17 years old in 1999, and I feel now is the right time to bow out,” continued his post. “I have had an incredible journey, and have met some amazing people in the game.

“Football will always remain in my blood. It gives me great pride and satisfaction to look back on the blessed career that I’ve had. I now look forward to spending some quality time with my friends and family.”

Jermain Defoe will be remembered for goals – and Bradley Lowery

Defoe, who registered a total of 304 goals in 762 club games, was part of the Tottenham side which won the League Cup in 2008 and last year lifted the Scottish Premiership title with Rangers.

He made his England debut in March 2004 in a 1–0 defeat to Sweden during the reign of Sven-Goran Eriksson. His final cap came in a 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw with Scotland in 2017.

Bradley Lowery, Jermain Defoe

In addition to his exploits on the field, Defoe developed a close friendship with terminally-ill Sunderland supporter Bradley Lowery.

Lowery, who died aged six in 2017, featured in the image accompanying Defoe’s retirement message. Lowery’s mother also paid a warm tribute to Defoe upon his announcement, via the Northern Echo.

“Thank you to all the fans from each club I’ve played for,” continued the post.

“The love I have received and (which) endured throughout my career will never be forgotten, and I will always have a special bond with you all. Thank you also to my amazing team-mates, coaches, and staff for playing such an integral part in my career.”

Defoe concluded: “Lastly, I want to say thank you to my mum. You gave me a ball at two years old, and you made me believe my dream could happen.

“All that I am is because of you, and I owe everything to you and God.”