Sunderland would no doubt have hoped for more from Jermain Defoe after he rejoined the club this campaign but after struggling to hit match fitness again, he has now made the decision to retire from football.
The 39-year-old managed only two starts – and seven league appearances in total – after his move to the Stadium of Light and the player has now admitted on Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE that he didn’t want to block the pathway of another Black Cats talent and that even a coaching role made him reconsider his involvement.
The striker is viewed as a Sunderland hero having scored for them on a regular basis when they were back in the Premier League. In fact, he managed nearly 100 league games for the side during his time there but his second coming wasn’t exactly as he would have wanted.
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Instead, Defoe has now hung up his boots and can now think about life away from the field. He certainly believes that he has made the right decision though, having spoken on Rio Ferdinand’s FIVE and revealed his thoughts on finally calling it a day.
Speaking about it, Defoe said: “The next season as a player, to player/coach, it was hard to balance the two.
“With me it’s just football, train, recover and get ready for the game. As a player/coach where do I do my coaching?
“I tried to tick all the boxes in terms of preparation and recovery. There were certain days I’d finish training and then there’d be days were I’d think ‘Should I be taking the forwards for some finishing?
“In terms of playing I just switched off and it was difficult. I went to Sunderland and it was getting up to speed and not playing, playing a game, resting, playing a game and then lower back problems, ankles. I just thought ‘am I blocking the way for someone coming through because Jermain Defoe is here’.
“I didn’t want it to be a situation for the manager, because I’m here and my reputation meant they had to put me on the pitch or I had to play.”
Defoe then, rather than continuing to take up a position in the matchday squad even as a substitute, decided that the best port of call would be to call it a day and leave the club despite having only just made the move. Now, it should allow for Sunderland to use the wages and space elsewhere – and could ultimately benefit them in the long run anyway.
Jermain Defoe will remain a Sunderland hero, even if he didn’t feature exactly as much as the club would have wanted.
At 39-years-old, it was perhaps unrealistic anyway to expect a similar output and turnaround from the player in League One this year when compared to last time he was at the club. He probably could have added a few goals – and some attacking verve – but if he isn’t at match fitness, then he likely wouldn’t have played anway.
What Defoe has done is actually quite unselfish. He has allowed another younger player to potentially get his chance by stepping aside and he will more than likely return to the Black Cats in some capacity in the future.
Whilst that might mean they struggle in attack during the run-in now – and might mean they slip out of the play-offs – they could benefit in the long run if a younger talent is now able to make a breakthrough in the first-team.