Monsieur Salut’s daughter Nathalie Randall continues her campaign of contrition for having Sunderland as, maybe, her second club (after Liverpool) by offering her own fond farewell to Jermain Defoe, a personal favourite of hers, and urging Simon Grayson to emulate Rafa’s success as he goes about the search for replacement strikers.
Nathalie actually wrote the piece before the wretched news of six-year-old Bradley Lowery’s death. That touched her very deeply, as it did so many others, and her old dad has made some necessary adjustments to the article to take account of the sad development …
Jermain Defoe has made his much anticipated move to Bournemouth on a free, rumoured to be worth £65,000-a-week to him in wages, on a three-year deal.
That is excellent business secured for himself. He’s 34 and will soon enough (October) be 35 so in truth, it is quite a big gamble to be taken by Bournemouth.
But there is no doubt that Defoe is still a class striker, even at his age, and if he gets better service than he did at Sunderland, he could more than match his Sunderland scoring feats on his return to the south coast.
And there is even a chance he could make it in the England squad for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. I still feel it is only a slim chance, with the likes of Rooney, Kane, Rashford, Vardy and Sturridge potentially ahead of him but anything can happen during the course of a season.
He will be fondly remembered by Sunderland fans, for his on and off pitch contributions. On the pitch, he joined in a swap with FC Toronto or the maligned Jozy Altidore during the winter transfer window in 2015.
This seemed to work for both parties, Altidore, scoring once for Sunderland in 42 appearances, has scored 30 goals in 63 appearances for Toronto FC. It was in Defoe’s first half season for Sunderland that he established himself as a Sunderland legend with his spectacular, match-winning volley against Newcastle and the emotional celebration that endeared him to the fans.
He helped lift Sunderland out of the relegation zone, despite playing under Advocaat in an unfamiliar winger role.
During the 2015-2016 season, he scored 15 goals which for a struggling side such as Sunderland, was outstanding. He carried on in this rich vein of form during the 2016-2017 season, where he again finished with 14 goals, again a great achievement given how woeful the team were.
His form earned him a recall to the Gareth Southgate’s England team where he has been picked in the last two squads. It remains to be seen if he will manage to do enough to achieve his dream of making it on to the plane to Russia.
Off the pitch, he formed a bond so special with Bradley Lowery, who died last week from cancer. Bradley had been with him whenever possible on the pitch around the country as mascot for Sunderland games and he also led the England team out to face Lithuania in May 2017. Tears welled when I saw Jermain’s tribute to the poor little boy.
There have been some truly touching photos of the pair of them, the most recent one taken last week as Bradley weakened. It is a small consolation but Jermain’s many gestures gave huge comfort to a desperately sick child; I think he deserves an award even if he wouldn’t expect one.
Defoe also earned approval for his touching open letter to the Sunderland fans, as below. This is in contract to the bitterness felt when Sam Allardyce left the manager’s post to take over as England manager, and the manner in which he left:
I’d like to thank all the Sunderland fans for their support and everyone else involved with the football club.
I had an amazing time with many great memories. I’m going to miss so many people at the club from the canteen staff and the chef to the laundry girls and the cleaners who always made the boys smile no matter what.
I feel blessed to have played for such a great football club with some of the best fans I’ve ever come across.
The highlight of my time has to be walking out with Bradley against Everton and that volley against Newcastle – a goal people still come up to me and talk about!!
I want to wish everyone at Sunderland the best for the future.
There’s some talented players there and some great youngsters pushing through, so I can’t wait to see you back in the Premier League.
I’m looking forward to my new challenge and can’t wait to get started at AFC Bournemouth.
And so now, as well as bringing yet more men surplus to Everton’s requirements, Simon Grayson must look hard for some bargain deals.
In particular , he needs to find a striker – preferably strikers plural – to set the Championship alight in the same way Dwight Gayle did for Newcastle last season.