If you haven’t seen the very good commercial about Jermain Defoe’s move to Toronto FC, you’re missing out. Give Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment credit, they needed to make a splash where its soccer property was concerned, and they did it in a big — and humorous — way. The renowned Tottenham striker was up for grabs and Tim Leiweke and Co. shot for the sun, moon, and stars to bring him into the fold. With the addition of American stalwart Michael Bradley, the sad sack TFC side is now a force to be reckoned with in Major League Soccer. Of course, Defoe, who has 55 caps with the English national squad and scored a goal in the 2010 World Cup, is the big prize and is being advertised as such. And, given the fact that Defoe is still very much in the mix to compete for England in Brazil this summer, it really is “a bloody big deal!”
There have been many talented teens, i.e. Wayne Gretzky, to take their talents to the big leagues and Defoe is no different, having turned pro with West Ham United as a 16-year-old in 1999. In September 2000, at the ripe old age of 17, Defoe scored his first goal with “the big club” in a 1-0 victory over Walsall. Before he turned 19, Defoe was loaned out to second division club Bournemouth, where he equalled a league record by scoring in 10 consecutive matches. He finished his first full season with 18 goals in 29 games. Defoe capped his teen years with a return to West Ham in late 2001 and the distinction of leading his team in scoring (14 goals in 39 appearances) despite being used mostly in a reserve role.