Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Veteran striker Jermain Defoe has his sights on a “dream” place in England’s 2018 World Cup squad after returning to the fold following a near four-year absence, he said on Monday.
The 34-year-old Sunderland player was recalled by manager Gareth Southgate for Wednesday’s friendly against Germany in Dortmund and Sunday’s World Cup qualifier at home to Lithuania.
Asked if he is already thinking about playing at the World Cup in Russia, Defoe replied: “Of course, yeah. I know how important it is to play for your country.”
Defoe was a member of the England squads that went to the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 and says the experiences whetted his appetite for major tournament football.
“Just going to a major tournament — travelling, getting to the hotels, playing the games — it’s something you’ve always wanted to do from being a kid, growing up watching the great players over the years,” he said.
“Playing in the major tournaments, going out and emulating the players you’ve seen on TV. Being lucky enough to have experienced it, you just want it more and more.
“I’ve been blessed to have gone to two major tournaments. So if I do get an opportunity to go to another major tournament, it’d be a dream.”
Defoe has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season, more than any English striker except for Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, who is injured.
Despite his long spell in the international wilderness, Defoe said he never gave up hope of a recall.
“Just never giving up really,” he told reporters at England’s St George’s Park headquarters in Burton-on-Trent, central England when asked for the secret behind his return.
“Just always keeping my head down, working hard and just having that hope that I’ll get back in. I’m back here and I’m delighted.”
With Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck injured and Wayne Rooney not selected, Defoe is vying for a starting berth with Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United.