A little while ago, back in February as it happens, we published the view of an outsider, Mark Smith, a freelance sports writer based in Prague, that Roy Hodgson should take Jermain Defoe to the Euros. The case got stronger, of course, but the deafness afflicting Hodgson got worse, too. It’s heartening when neutrals see things the way we do, too, but in a partisan way. Here, another writer, Darren Moore, a freelancer based closer to home (Scotland) laments Defoe’s utterly predictable exclusion from the squad and suggests England may suffer as a result …
As we count down the days until the start of the European Championships in France, there are inevitably a few players that will miss the tournament who perhaps should have been taken along – one of these players, I believe, is striker Jermain Defoe.
Defoe was instrumental in Sunderland’s great escape in avoiding relegation from the Premier League this season, scoring a total of 15 goals in 33 appearances for the Black Cats which ensured English top flight football next season for Sunderland and manager Sam Allardyce.
This achievement would have been made that much sweeter for Black Cats fans as bitter local rivals Newcastle United were relegated down to the Championship, while on a personal note, Defoe finished up the Premier League season by being the third highest English goalscorer in the division behind Harry Kane (25 goals) and Jamie Vardy (24 goals) respectively.
In the Euro 2016 betting odds, it is the Spurs striker Kane who is the 2/1 clear bookies favourite to emerge from the Euros as England’s top goalscorer but if you are a new customer you can probably grab yourself a tasty enhanced odds offer.
Scoring goals at the highest level domestically is something that Defoe has done on a regular basis during his 17-year professional career and in April 2011 he became only the 20th player to score 100 Premier League goals.
Defoe is currently the 11th highest goalscorer in Premier League history, and he has amassed a total of 183 goals spanning over 497 matches which includes a stint in Canada with Toronto FC in the USA MLS during the 2014/15 season. In addition, Jermain Defoe has scored 19 goals in 55 matches for England.
Defoe started his professional career with West Ham United following a move from Charlton Athletic’s youth set-up and he scored 29 goals in 93 appearances for the Hammers in his five-year tenure at the Boleyn ground. During this time, he was loaned out to Bournemouth where he scored 18 goals in 29 appearances for the Cherries.
In 2004, he was involved in a 6 million pound transfer deal to Tottenham, the first of two stints at Spurs where he would score 43 goals in 139 appearances, and he re-joined the London club in 2009 for a further five seasons, scoring 47 goals in 135 appearances.
In between his two separate stints at White Hart Lane, Defoe was signed by Portsmouth for the 2008/09 season where he re-ignited the Pompey chimes scoring 14 goals in 30 matches before being brought back by Tottenham following the fans’ desire to see him in a Spurs shirt again.
Defoe was then snapped up by Toronto FC in the MLS and became part of the soccer revolution in the States which was started by David Beckham joining LA Galaxy, but which has subsequently seen the likes of former Premier League stars such as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane playing in Major League Soccer.
In January 2015, Sunderland then signed Defoe from Toronto FC as part of a swap deal which saw former Black Cats striker Jozy Altidore move to the Canadian club following Altidore’s miserable stint in the north-east where he managed just one goal in 42 appearances for Sunderland.
It’s clear to see from Defoe’s goalscoring statistics that he relishes playing in arguably the best league in the world as he’s notched 154 Premier League goals in 449 top flight matches (that’s a ratio of one goal in just under every three games).
This season, he has outscored the following strikers that have been named in Roy Hodgson’s 23- man Euro 2016 squad:
- Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) – 8 goals in 28 matches
- Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) – 8 goals in 14 matches
- Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) – 4 goals in 11 matches
And yet Defoe has been overlooked yet again for Euro 2016.
This therefore begs the question; why does Roy Hodgson continually disregard the goal-scoring prowess of Defoe? The most obvious answer perhaps is that Defoe is now 33, and Hodgson could be forgiven for introducing fresh blood to his squad.
If Rooney is pencilled in as a wide right attacking player, then only Jamie Vardy has the required match-fitness and game time under his belt of the impact players coming off the bench (assuming Hodgson starts with Harry Kane up front and Welbeck on the left)
This formation requires Hodgson (usually an ultra conservative tactician when it comes to major tournaments), to field a more attacking 4-3-3 formation. But if Hodgson is looking for an impact player from the bench to hit the ground running when introduced at top level international football, then the statistics not only suggest, but demand, a player of Defoe’s calibre and experience to fulfil this role.
Sadly, England will yet again flatter to deceive in the Euro 2016 as the gulf between the major European nations of Germany, Spain, Italy and France continues to grow over the rest of the European field, with England being just another also-ran. Hodgson has missed a trick in denying Defoe.