Cape Town - Jermain Defoe has thanked Sunderland fans for their support, after winning the North East Football Writers’ Player of the Year award.
The 34-year-old striker was the unanimous winner, ahead of Ben Gibson and Jamaal Lascelles, after bagging 19 goals for the Black Cats in 2016 to help keep them in the Premier League.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star was honoured to claim the award and dedicated it to the Sunderland fans.
"I feel very much at home in the North East, so to win this award is a real honour," said Defoe, according to the Sunderland Echo.
"The fans here are very knowledgeable and so passionate - football is their life and that makes it a great place for any player to play football.
"I would like to thank the North East Football Writers for voting for me and the Sunderland fans for their amazing support, they have been behind me from day one and I dedicate this award to them.
"Sunderland is a very special club that I know will be part of me forever."
David Moyes' team will be without Adnan Januzaj who cannot play against his parent-club when they travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United on Monday.
The former United coach will be forced to again change his team by replacing the 21-year-old midfielder who has shown glimpses of his talent in the last two fixtures.
Kick off is at 17:00.