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Jermain Defoe believes he's come back a stronger person after the agony of missing the final cut of a second-successive major tournament.

Jermain Defoe believes he's come back a stronger person after the agony of missing the final cut of a second-successive major tournament.

The striker was again with the England camp right until the last minute - this time because of injuries to Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen - before having to pack his bags on the eve of the World Cup.

It was a repeat of the disappointment Jermain suffered in 2004 when he just missed out on the European Championship finals having participated in all the pre-tournament training and friendlies.

Now well into pre-season, ‘JD’, in his words, was ‘buzzing’ at our training camp in France and it was no surprise when he bagged the first goal of the summer in the 2-1 friendly win against Bordeaux. After going close against Nice, he then grabbed both goals as we beat Celta Vigo 2-0 last week.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself because it’s really important as a striker to score the first goal as soon as possible,†said Jermain.

“For all players it’s good to get the first games out of the way, to get fitness levels up and gain match fitness but as a forward, to get that first goal and that buzz and feeling, it’s vital.

“I always like to score goals in pre-season because you take that form and confidence into the season.â€Â

So how did he cope with just missing out with England again? “Luckily enough I’ve got a strong family, my mum used to phone me every day when I was with the squad and she would tell me to keep my head up.

“I had people around me giving me positive vibes - my girlfriend, my agent and the lads were great.

“It was frustrating because I felt so sharp and strong and in my mind I believed there was that chance I could be staying because of the injury situation.

“It was disappointing, a massive blow, but I’m a strong character. I was down for a while but I’d been through it before and it makes you stronger. I’m still young and I’ll keep doing my stuff. I feel a lot stronger both mentally and physically.â€Â

Jermain added that he couldn’t wait to walk back through the gates at Spurs Lodge. “I always look forward to the start of the season - even when I’m on holiday I think about football and I can’t wait to get back to the club and get started again.

“I can’t wait to meet up with the boys and kick a ball again. You want that buzz again of training and playing games. I’ve had a good rest and I feel good.

“We’ve a great bunch of lads, a young squad and the team spirit is excellent. We showed that last season and I think it will be the same next season.â€Â