Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Defoe Is Loving His Life on Wearside; Emotional Ties with Cats Are So Strong

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Defoe Is Loving His Life on Wearside; Emotional Ties with Cats Are So Strong

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Brown Sports Writer steve.sports-brown@ncjmedia.co.uk

SUNDERLAND'S Jermain Defoe has echoed Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot's glowing tribute to the North East, insisting some footballers use the region's cold weather as a "soft excuse" to avoid seeking employment with either club.

The Black Cats striker has also revealed his attachment to the area is rooted in a desire to become revered in the same way as "legend" Kevin Phillips.

Elliot earlier this week praised the North East's unique, heaven-like attraction.

Defoe has become similarly gripped, long before his winner in the Wear-Tyne derby in April 2015 brought tears to his eyes for which, he says, no explanation is required.

That is simply what scoring goals for such "amazing fans, at a big stadium, at a club with fantastic training facilities" means to a "real proper London boy" who has come to embrace, enjoyed and love life at Sunderland.

The club and its "chilled" surroundings are good for Defoe, for his career.

After all, he adds, there is "so much more to give" - and compared to Toronto Wearside is positively "tropical"!

"It's cold, that's it," he says. "Everything else, it's just an excuse. It's an excuse. If you love football, you can't make excuses.

"It's like going to an away game at Stoke City.

"It's going to be cold, it's a tough place to go, you lose the game, you make excuses.

"If you love playing football, if you want to play in front of amazing fans, a big stadium, at a club with fantastic training facilities, then put some tracksuit bottoms on and come and play for Sunderland.

"It's a soft way out to make excuses about the weather. I'm a real London boy but I've loved it, I've enjoyed it and embraced it.

"When I was 14 I moved to Lilleshall (National Sports Centre, since superseded by St George's Park) and I enjoyed it.

"I left my family for two years but I was training every day, working on my finishing every day. It was difficult because I'm away but I liked being out of my comfort zone and I loved playing football. Now I've Turn to Page 53 FROM BACK PAGE moved to a nice house in a quiet area. …

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