Jermain Colin Defoe (born 7 October 1982) is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club Sunderland.
Defoe was spotted playing football by Charlton Athletic who enrolled him at the FA National School of Excellence at Lilleshall Hall in 1997. Two years later, he took the controversial decision, aged 16, to turn professional with West Ham United, following which Charlton were subsequently awarded a compensation package rising to £1.4 million depending on Premier League and international appearances. At West Ham, he was a member of the Under-19 team that won the Premier Academy League title in 1999–2000, scoring twice against Arsenal in the play-off final, and made his first-team debut in a League Cup match against Walsall in September 2000, scoring the only goal in a 1–0 win. After a season-long loan spell at Bournemouth during the 2000–01 season, established himself in the West Ham line-up.
However, after West Ham’s relegation in 2003, Defoe joined Tottenham in for an initial fee of £6 million, rising to £7 million depending on “specific performance criteria”, and with Bobby Zamora joining West Ham. Manager David Pleat said, “I can’t think of a British striker at his age who has achieved as much in such a short space of time. His goal record for a 21-year-old is quite exceptional. I hope he will have a fine career at Tottenham.”
Defoe marked his arrival at Tottenham with a goal on his debut in the 4–3 home win over Portsmouth in February 2004 and added a further six in the remainder of 2003–04, scoring seven goals in 15 matches. He then scored 13 goals in 36 matches in the Premier League, including a hat-trick in a 5–1 win over Southampton in December 2004, and nine goals in eight matches in the FA Cup and League Cup, in 2004–05. He also received the club’s Player of the Year award for the 2004 calendar year, as voted by season ticket holders and Spurs members.
Defoe spent 4 years in Tottenham before being sold to Portsmouth in January 2008. He spent one season at Fratton Park before returning to Tottenham in the January 2009 transfer window. He played for Toronto FC of Major League Soccer in 2014, before returning to England in January 2015 to sign for Sunderland.
In April 2011, Defoe became the 20th player to score a century of Premier League goals, and is currently the 11th highest goalscorer in Premier League history. He became the fifth highest goalscorer in Tottenham’s history in September 2013, and the club’s highest goalscorer in European competitions in November 2013. Defoe also holds the Premier League record for the most goals scored as a substitute, with 22, as of 11 January 2014.
Defoe made his England debut in 2004 and has made 55 appearances, scoring 19 goals, including three appearances and a goal at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.