Daily Mirror

Goalden oldie Defoe backed to spark Cats

Jermain returns to Sunderland & the 39-year-old is tipped to fire them back to the Championsh­ip

- BY @SimonBird_

JERMAIN DEFOE turns 40 in October – but he has been backed by Sunderland to spark their League One promotion campaign.

Defoe helped Steven Gerrard’s Rangers win the Scottish title last season, scoring seven goals in 20 appearance­s.

But with just nine minutes of first-team football under his belt since May, he is pushing the boundaries.

At Sunderland he has been ordered to bring his “elite” mindset to the managerles­s club’s shaky promotion push.

Defoe, scorer of 162 goals in almost 500 Premier League games, has experiment­ed with a vegan diet, and used icebaths and massage to keep in peak condition.

And he scored one of Sunderland’s greatest ever goals (below), a dipping volley to defeat Newcastle in April 2015.

If he can rekindle the hit rate of 33 goals in 74 games in the following two seasons, the Black Cats’ efforts to climb out of League One at the fourth attempt will be boosted.

The deal to bring the free agent in was resisted by sacked boss Lee Johnson, who lost his job after the 6-0 defeat to Bolton at the weekend.

Defoe admitted: “I can’t stop smiling because this is a special move for me for many reasons.

“I have a special bond with the fans here and the club is in a fantastic position to get promoted.

“I want to be a part of more special times here and I’m looking forward to it.”

Sunderland sporting chief Kristjaan Speakman said: “Jermain’s personalit­y is infectious and his mindset is elite. He is a proven winner and a goalscorer and we are delighted.

“We all know how highly regarded Jermain is among our fanbase and within the wider community.”

During his first spell on Wearside, Defoe struck up a close relationsh­ip with young cancer sufferer, the late Bradley Lowery, helping the six-year-old and his family, and raising funds.


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