Gareth needs class of Jack

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - Steve Mil­lar BUB­BLE GUM, By STEVE MIL­LAR

JERMAIN DE­FOE blew out the can­dles on his 35th birth­day cake yes­ter­day – and vowed to savour at least an­other two years in the big time.

De­foe’s love for the game is as strong as ever as he looks back on the sac­ri­fices he has made to stay at the peak of his su­perb con­di­tion.

He has never been a big drinker and as a non-smoker has never puffed on a shisha pipe, un­like a few of his Eng­land coun­ter­parts.

And his only vice is with reg­u­lar sup­plies de­liv­ered to his south coast man­sion from his favourite sweet shop back at his old haunt of Sun­der­land.

De­foe does not con­demn any­one a cou­ple of pints or a cig­gie. Far from it.

Ab­sti­nence is his cho­sen path with mum San­dra play­ing a huge part in his up­bring­ing by con­stantly re­mind­ing him of the life he must lead to reach the top – and stay there.

There can­not be a bet­ter way to track his jour­ney from starry-eyed kid to an Eng­land goal ace than to high­light a defin­ing mo­ment in his young life.

De­foe said: “As a young kid my mum used to say a lot of things to me. That dis­ci­pline at the time I didn’t re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate.

“I re­mem­ber be­ing in my bed­room – we used to live on an es­tate – and my mates used to be there. Smok­ing, drink­ing, talk­ing to girls.

“As a young lad, of course you want to be in­volved but mum al­ways used to say, ‘If you’re telling me you want to be­come a pro­fes­sional foot­baller, like you’ve been telling me since you were two, then you have to do ev­ery­thing right’.

“It’s sac­ri­fices. She was like that from day one. There are times when I’m tough on my­self. I go to a res­tau­rant and think, ‘That choco­late brownie looks nice’. And I’m like, ‘No’.

“I know all the sac­ri­fices over the years and you get to this level be­cause of that. I try to be ve­gan but I love fish. It’s a dif­fi­cult one. Ev­ery­one knows I don’t drink al­co­hol.

“I’ve never drunk re­ally through my whole ca­reer. That’s prob­a­bly why I’m still play­ing.

“I’m still hu­man but I’m not say­ing I’m an an­gel or foot­ballers shouldn’t drink.

“I’ve worked hard. I’ve ticked ev­ery box in terms of what I can do to get my­self fit­ter ev­ery sea­son. It’s clean liv­ing. You eat the right things and you lis­ten to peo­ple at the club.

“But I don’t judge any­one. Do you know what I love? Bub­ble gum. When I was at Sun­der­land there was this sweet shop. There was bub­ble gum. As soon as I walked in they’d go in the back and get a box.

“I still get them de­liv­ered to my house and even then it’s prob­a­bly mainly af­ter the game. But apart from that I try my best to be dis­ci­plined.”

So how long can the De­foe longevity last af­ter a 18-year ca­reer which has taken him from West Ham to Tot­ten­ham (three times), Portsmouth, Toronto, Sun­der­land and now Bournemouth?

De­foe added: “If I feel the same at 37 then why not?

“I was 35 on Satur­day and all of a sud­den some­one is think­ing, ‘You shouldn’t be play­ing for Eng­land or you shouldn’t be play­ing in the Pre­mier League at that age be­cause of how in­tense it is’.

“If I’m still run­ning down the chan­nels like I’m 25 then for me, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter. It’s not left me. It’s al­ways been inside me. When I meet up with the Eng­land squad I get that same buzz.

“I don’t think it will ever go.” PETER BARNES has had the same nag­ging thought for as long as he can re­mem­ber.

Where are the Eng­land flair play­ers who can get you mov­ing to the edge of your seat in ex­cited an­tic­i­pa­tion?

Barnes, a fly­ing winger for Manch­ester City, United, West Brom and Leeds, has al­ways loved watch­ing Paul Gas­coigne and Glenn Hod­dle to name just a few of past Three Lions greats.

Now, he only sees Jack Wil­shere (right) liv­ing up to that silky stan­dard but he can­not get a chance in the cur­rent Eng­land squad head­ing for the World Cup in Rus­sia.

Barnes said: “Eng­land have done well to qual­ify although it was an easy group. I didn’t ex­pect any­thing more or less. But I just think we are go­ing there with a short­age of world-class play­ers. “We have a lot of try­ers and work­ers. But when you put Fabian Delph and Jor­dan Hen­der­son in the mid­dle of the park that’s a prob­lem. We’re sac­ri­fic­ing tal­ent. “What­ever has hap­pened to Wil­shere? To me he is the most tal­ented mid­fielder we have. “We have got to go back to cre­at­ing and find­ing more tal­ent. “We have got Dele Alli but I’m not sure about his at­ti­tude. We need four or five more tal­ented play­ers and let them play.”

■ BY GUM: De­foe reck­ons he is fit enough to play on at top

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