When listing off some of the most consistent strikers to play in the Premier League era, Jermain Defoe is a man that is often forgotten in the conversation.
Defoe is a striker who seems to be at the top of his game despite being 36-years-old, and his most prolific periods in the Premier League came during his time at Sunderland.
In his first six months with the Black Cats, Defoe scored two of the most important goals for the club that season, the only goal in the Tyne-Wear derby and the second goal for Sunderland in a 2-0 win away to Everton, two goals that would eventually keep Dick Advocaat’s side up that campaign.
The following season was to be one of the most dramatic in Sunderland’s history, though, and the season that cemented Defoe’s status as a cult hero of the club.
With no win in the first nine games, Advocaat quit the club and was replaced by Sam Allardyce in mid-October, and by the start of the New Year, fortunes had turned around somewhat for the Black Cats. Sunderland sat 19th in the league table, four points off safety, and Defoe’s record of four goals in the first 19 leagues games was underwhelming, to say the least.
Sunderland looked destined for the drop, but then 2016 happened, and Allardyce’s side finally discovered how to play football. A good winter transfer window that saw the likes of Wahbi Khazri and Dame N’Doye come in and improve the starting XI.
As well as improvements to strengthen the side, Defoe began to find his scoring boots. Five goals in two games against relegation rivals Aston Villa and Swansea injected hope into supporters that a great escape was on the cards, and escape they did.
Wins against Manchester United, Norwich and Chelsea as well as draws against Liverpool and the old enemy Newcastle meant that Sunderland had put Premier League safety into their hands, and Defoe was at the heart of this revival.
Defoe registered 15 league goals for the Black Cats that season as a 3-0 win at home to Everton secured top-flight status for another season on Tyneside. It was extra special for the team to survive as rivals Newcastle were relegated down into the Championship.
However, the good times were not to last long for Sunderland. The following season under new manager David Moyes the Black Cats finished rock bottom of the Premier League table. Although Defoe was able to keep the goalscoring antics up with another 15 league goals for the season, it wasn’t enough to see Sunderland drop down into the Championship.
Defoe might have left the club on sad terms, but the English striker is still regarded as a cult hero at the club, with his goals keeping the Premier League dream alive for just one more season.
Sunderland fans, is Defoe a Sunderland legend?