English Premiership

Spurs confirm Defoe's exit

2014-01-10 13:41
Jermain Defoe (AFP)

London - Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermain Defoe is to join Major League Soccer side Toronto, the English Premier League club announced Friday.

The 31-year-old's move will take effect from February 28, meaning there is still a chance for Defoe to add to his to tally of 142 Spurs goals.

With the World Cup just a matter of months away, it remains to be seen how Defoe's move to Canada affects his prospects of a place in England's squad for Brazil 2014.

Reports suggested Toronto had paid more than 8 million for Defoe as part of a marketing deal between their owners, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Spurs which includes a friendly with the London club on July 23.

"This is a great opportunity for Jermain and he feels it is one that he wishes to pursue," Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood told the club's website.

"He has played a big part in the club for many years and we all know he will give his best until his last minute in a Spurs shirt.

"We have several attacking options within our squad for the remaining dozen or so games of the season after Jermain departs and we shall keep our options under review.

"We also have a goal threat from players in other areas of the pitch including having wide players and attacking midfielders who will enable us to vary our shape when required."

Defoe insisted he was keen to make the most of his remaining time with Tottenham, who have at least nine games to play before his planned departure from White Hart Lane.

"Everybody knows how much this club means to me and I will play my heart out for the team and the fans until my last kick for the club," he said.

"I have had a fantastic time here and the fans have always been amazing to me.

"I am grateful for the opportunity for myself and my family to experience living overseas and for me to play in the MLS with a contract that will take me to the age of 35. I have no doubt I shall be coming back as a fan supporting the team in the years to come too."

Defoe is now in his second spell with Spurs, having left in 2008 to spend a year at Portsmouth.

Before joining Spurs, he made his name with fellow London top flight side West Ham, his debut for the Hammers coming as a 16-year-old.

For England, he has scored 19 goals in 55 appearances.

There was a time when a move to North America by a European footballer effectively signalled the end of their international career.

However, former England captain David Beckham did continue to represent his country, albeit on a restricted basis, while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy while ex Spurs captain Robbie Keane's move to the same club has not stopped the striker being a Republic of Ireland regular.


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