Defoe on the closure of White Hart Lane: 'I'll never forget that roar'
24 May 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
He might not have been there in person, but Jermain Defoe was very much with us at the Lane’s finale.
‘JD’ watched it all as he prepared for Sunderland’s match against Arsenal on the Tuesday night after our Sunday spectacular against Manchester United.
His presence was certainly felt as well, not least as part of the Farewell Ceremony’s emotional, uplifting film, where his five-goal salvo remains very much a part of modern-day Spurs folklore. ‘Defoe, Defoe, Defoe, Defoe, Defoe’ belted out on the film to cheers around the famous old stadium, a crowning glory for the striker who climbed up to fifth in the Club’s all-time goalscoring list and remains our all-time top European goalscorer.
The fans sung Jermain’s name as they reeled off their favourites on a day that will live long in the memory – and that certainly touched a nerve.
“I was watching the game and the fans started singing my name,” said JD, who enjoyed another fine season in front of goal despite Sunderland’s relegation.
“My mum phoned me straight away and we said ‘wow’, that’s crazy! Look at the history of Spurs and all the legends who have played for the Club and the fans were still singing my name! I was like a little kid watching that!”
A hit the minute he walked through the doors in 2004, Jermain just kept banging them in. He scored 143 goals in 363 appearances in all competitions in two spells over 10 years before a change of direction and a move to the MLS with Toronto in 2014. He returned to Sunderland in 2015 and got back to doing what he does best, scoring goals in the Premier League, his form this time around earning an England recall. No prizes for guessing what happened next… Jermain opened the scoring in the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley in March.
He’s Spurs through and through, though, and we all know it. He loves the Club and the fans who still sing his name.
Above: Jermain celebrates after scoring five in the 9-1 win over Wigan.
“I can’t explain how gutted I was not to be there at White Hart Lane, it was just the way the fixtures fell, I would have loved to have been there,” said Jermain.
“That stadium has so many memories for me. The night I scored the penalty to become the Club’s record European goalscorer, that was special. Martin Chivers (who Jermain overtook) was there and came down the tunnel to congratulate me. That sums the Club up, just class.
“I remember when I came back from Portsmouth and I was introduced on the pitch and I had that grandad hat on! I walked out of the tunnel and I just remember that roar. I’ll never forget that. I’d scored goals for the Club in my first spell but you still don’t imagine getting a reception like that. I remember going on the pitch again before I left for Toronto and getting emotional – great, great memories.
“Even little things… I looked at some of the old photographs of the Wigan game, that moment will go down in history, unless someone scores six! I look back at that now, to score five goals at the Lane in the Premier League, that’s mad. That will never be forgotten. That game will always be shown, the way we played, 9-1!
“Now it’s special watching this team, not just winning games but going unbeaten at home all season and not just winning, dominating games as well. Arsenal, dominated. I watched that – I watch as many Spurs games as I can – and I can’t remember playing Arsenal and just dominating from start to finish. Look at the games this week! Harry Kane! I always said ‘H’ was a finisher. It’s a special time for the Club.
“You move on and new players come through, fantastic players, but I’m still there as fifth all-time top goalscorer. I just think of the legends who have played at the Club. To know that when I’ve finished playing I can look at that list and see my name is something special. My heart will always be at that Club.”
Coming soon: Jermain Defoe on Harry Kane…