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By Mike Williams
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Tottenham blogger Mike Williams looks back over Jermain Defoe’s time at White Hart Lane as the striker prepares to complete his move to Toronto FC.
There are not many players who could leave a club as their all-time record European scorer and still have supporters questioning whether he was exactly what was needed – but Jermain Defoe has managed to do exactly that.
When he signed for us back in 2004 from rivals West Ham, he was talked about as the next big thing – the next Ian Wright, some said. But has he delivered to his full potential? There’s no doubting the ability of the England striker but, despite his 143 goals for Spurs, he was often a source of frustration for the White Hart Lane faithful.
There were some superb performances, most notably the five goals against Wigan during the 9-1 hammering in 2009. Yet Defoe has always been renowned for blowing hot and cold, and he has been too inconsistent to be named among the all-time great Premier League strikers. He often started the season in fantastic form but then faded.
Harry Redknapp described Defoe as “the best finisher in the country” but I, like many Spurs fans, disagree. We were often leaving the ground hearing how the opposition goalkeeper had put it a world-class performance – but in reality, it was simply down to our poor finishing.
Despite his limitations, Defoe has rightly always been a crowd favourite at the Lane. He always played with passion, pride and his love for Tottenham – even after leaving for Portsmouth – could never be questioned.
It was a reciprocal relationship and that was demonstrated in September 2008 when Defoe scored a penalty for Pompey against us. Even though we were going through a terrible time on the field, the away supporters still sang Jermain’s name.
In the January window of 2009, the little man returned to “his home” and continued where he had left off before. He continued to score important goals but, after the summer signing of Roberto Soldado and, with Emmanuel Adebayor in front of him in the pecking order, Defoe would have been left with a familiar feeling. In January, he confirmed that he would be leaving us to sign for Toronto FC.
The move will disappoint many fans who will see it as the end of era, and they will hope to see him one last time tonight – but Defoe has already done a lap of honour at the Lane, after the recent game against Everton, and the fans reminded him “You’re Spurs and you know you are”.
That will not change, and he will be welcomed back as a supporter any time.
Follow me on Twitter @mikew191