'I wasn’t ready to leave': Fan favourite Jermain Defoe returns to Sunderland AFC


Sunderland AFC has re-signed Jermain Defoe on a deal that will keep him until the end of the season.

During his time with the Black Cats between 2015 and 2017, Defoe scored 37 goals in 93 appearances in all competitions.

A firm favourite with fans, the 39-year-old won the Sunderland Supporters' Player of the year and Sunderland Player of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. 

The former England international has been linked with numerous League One clubs throughout the duration of the January transfer window, including Charlton Athletic and Oxford United.

He formed a bond with six-year-old Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery, capturing the hearts of people across the country.

Bradley, from Blackhall Colliery, died of a rare childhood cancer in 2017. His mum, Gemma, still speaks of their friendship with fondness.

Shortly before Sunderland announced his return, she tweeted one of her favourite photos of the pair.

Following the Black Cats' relegation from the Premier League in 2017, Defoe left the club and headed for Bournemouth on a free transfer.

He then went on to join Glasgow Rangers and played a part in the campaign which led them to win the Scottish Premiership last season. 

The striker was named as part of a four-man caretaker team responsible for leading the club when Steven Gerrard left in November 2021, but the arrival of Giovanni van Bronckhorst signalled the end of his spell at Ibrox.

Defoe was released by the Rangers earlier this month.

Upon his return, Defoe said: “I can’t stop smiling because this is a special move for me for many reasons. I’ve had so many messages saying, ‘remember when you said you would come back’, as I said that I would one day and when I left, I wasn’t ready to leave. I have a special bond with the fans here and the club is in a fantastic position to get promoted. I want to be a part of more special times here and I’m looking forward to it.”

Kristjaan Speakman added: “We all know how high highly regarded Jermain is amongst our fan base and within the wider community. He returns at a crucial time in our season, and we firmly believe that he can have a positive influence on and off the pitch. Jermain’s personality is infectious and his mindset is elite. He is a proven winner and a goalscorer and we are delighted to welcome him back to the Stadium of Light.”

Only eight players have scored more Premier League goals than the 39-year-old, netting over 300 senior goals during a glittering 23-year career.