Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Defoe Is Desperate to Strike It Lucky for England

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Defoe Is Desperate to Strike It Lucky for England

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

JERMAIN DEFOE has been playing the head waiter in Sardinia this week and it hasn't been an easy part. The Tottenham striker doesn't want to capitalise on anyone else's misfortunes but he must have been watching Darius Vassell like a hawk in training, as the Aston Villa striker tried out his suspect hamstring.

Vassell now looks like he will make it in time to be included in Sven-Goran Eriksson's definitive squad for Euro 2004 but that doesn't stop Defoe hoping that, somewhere, there will be an opportunity for him to show the England coach what he can do.

One of the reasons why 21-yearold Defoe wanted to move from West Ham in the wake of relegation was that languishing for six months in the First Division would kill off any faint hope he had of making Portugal this summer.

Spurs came in and his international opportunity duly followed in February when England played Sweden.

The Beckton-born striker did enough, when he replaced Vassell early in that match in Gothenburg, to convince Eriksson that he was a young striker of immense promise.

His reward was to be named as the first standby player outside the 23-man squad and since then it has been a matter of keeping fingers and everything else crossed.

"To play for your country is special but to play in a major tournament like the European Championship would really be a dream come true," Defoe said. "I don't want to see anyone drop out, that's not nice, but I can still hope I can make that squad. It will be hard if, after going to Sardinia and then Manchester, it doesn't happen for me but I know it's a possibility. It will be difficult to take but I will handle it.

"I would dearly love to get on at some stage during those two games in Manchester though. If I'm given the chance I will do my utmost to take it."

Defoe is one of those strikers who sets targets for himself. Last season was a settling-in period for him at his new club but he still managed seven goals. …

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