Jermain Defoe has had a fantastic start to the new season, with goals for England and Spurs; including his 50th for the club in the 2-1 win at West Ham. His hat trick and all round performance against Hull City was clearly his best performance in a Spurs shirt in either spell. When he rejoined Spurs in January this year, he was welcomed back with open arms as a disastrous season began to show the green shoots of recovery under Harry Redknapp.To be reunited with his mentor at a club that could finally match his talent was a win-win situation for all concerned.
Whilst I appreciate Defoe had already been at Tottenham prior to Redknapp’s appointment, he was always considered a luxury player. Under Santini and Jol, the Defoe and Keane partnership didn’t really seem to pay off. This saw Berbatov and Mido brought in 2006 and to this end, either Defoe or Keane would then partner the bigger man upfront. As time went by, the starting pair was consistently Keane and Berbatov and Defoe became 3rd choice.
Under the hellish reign of Juande Ramos, Defoe felt completely unloved, under rated and unwanted. Strikers, like the lead singers of a band, are in general, very precious, needing to be loved and told as much for them to perform. The chance to leave Spurs to link up with Redknapp at Portsmouth was too good a chance to turn down. In January 2008, Defoe moved to Fratton Park for £7.5 million.
17 goals in his 36 appearance for Pompey is some return, but with the financial difficulties beginning to bite on the South Coast last Christmas, Defoe made no secret of the chance to once again be reunited with Redknapp and return to White Hart Lane after 340 days away. Around the corner however, fate had a cruel twist awaiting Defoe.
After breaking his foot in a training ground accident, Defoe was laid up until April and had just returned to the squad on April 19th when his half brother, Jade was murdered. Defoe was devastated, he was close to Jade and his death hit him hard and given compassionate leave for two weeks by the club, on his return to playing, the Spurs fans gave him a rapturous welcome. He was clearly moved by the fans support that day.
Still finding his way back, fitness wise, Defoe managed to get a goal in the win over Manchester City and a brace for England against Andorra. It was a precursor of what this season had in store for him.
He has continued to find strength in the adversity that has happened to him in the last 6 months and along with his team mate, Wilson Palacios; whose brother was found murdered in May, 19 months after being kidnapped, the pitch is allowing them a place they can get away from it all. It has been to England and Tottenham’s benefit that Defoe is showing such character and feeding of the inspiring humilty of Palacios to deal with life correctly.
Defoe has spent the summer working on every aspect of his game, working on increasing his strength and changing his diet. He now realises he has a club manager that has always had faith in him and an international manager who now has a selection issue.For Tottenham and England fans, Defoe is showing signs of finally realising the potential that Redknapp spotted in him when he was at West Ham.
After Eriksson’s ludicrous decision not to take him to the 2006 World Cup, Defoe should be a shoe-in for South Africa and the only question for Fabio Capello is should he start him Wednesday night, his place in the World Cup Squad already assured. After all that’s happened to him this year, it’s the least he deserves.