Jermain Defoe announced his retirement from football on Thursday morning, a decision he described as “strange” and “tough”. The 39-year-old had a contract with Sunderland until the end of the season but has decided to put a halt to his career before the end of the campaign.
The ex-striker was a fan favourite at Spurs, spending a number of years producing solid displays for the Lilywhites. Defoe scored over 140 goals for the north London club and made a real impact during his long spell in N17.
After the 39-year-old put out his retirement message on social media, he received floods of positive responses to his post. This included comments from both Tottenham and England’s official Twitter account, congratulating Defoe on his long career.
After his announcement, Defoe spoke to Sky Sports about the decision he has made, after playing football for 22 years. “It’s a little bit strange, a lot of emotions. It was a tough decision,” he said.
“Growing up, when it’s your dream to play football at the top level, to be a professional and knowing that at some stage you’re going to have to stop. At a young age, it’s unthinkable, you can never imagine stopping playing to be honest. To get to 39, it’s good going. I’m proud of what I’ve done but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I think it’ll take a while to actually sink in.”
Being in the game for over two decades, it can’t have been easy for the now ex-Sunderland player to decide to put an end to his playing career. He also went on to speak about how he came to the final decision and the role his mum played in that.
“I think it’s the right time to be honest,” he added. “Over the years I’ve always asked players that have stopped playing that are friends ‘did you know straight away that it was the right time to stop? Why did you stop?’ And it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a couple weeks.
“I was in London at the weekend and I spent some time with my family. I had a two day conversation with my mum and obviously spoke about Sunderland, the club and how [I’m] feeling. It was just an honest conversation to be honest and she said some interesting stuff and she asked me: ‘How is your body? How do you feel?’ And I was just honest.
“I said: ‘I think it’s the right time for me to stop, mum’. I would never want to get into the situation where you long it out and there’s many factors. You’re sort of blocking the way for another youngster to come through. You have to listen to your body.
“I understand the aches and pains and stuff like that is part and parcel, you’re going to get that as you get older. Even though I feel fit you’re going to get that, that’s normal so it’s been a tough decision but I believe, in my heart, that it’s the right one.”
Defoe clearly didn’t make the decision quickly or easily but the responses he has already got show that he was loved by many in the game.