Sunderland ‘shock’ after ex-Portsmouth, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur star's retirement

Former Pompey striker Jermain Defoe recently announced his surprise retirement from football.

By Pepe Lacey
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 5:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 5:32 pm

Not least for Sunderland boss Alex Neil, who revealed the announcement came as a ‘shock’ as the striker called an end to his glittering 22-year career.

The 39-year made an emotional return to the Stadium of Light in February, after being released by Rangers a month before the transfer window.

The former England striker penned a six-month with his arrival greeted with excitement on Wearside and viewed as a massive boost in the Black Cats’ promotion charge.

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However, Defoe’s reunion didn't live up to expectations as he failed to score in any of his seven appearances.

In his first interview since the announcement, Neil revealed his surprise after having no knowledge of the striker’s decision.

He told Sunderland’s website: ‘I think it's difficult with somebody like Jermain, with the career he has had and what he has done, you know as a player when you feel that it is time. And unfortunately for Jermain, he got to that point.

Sunderland boss Alex Neil reveals 'shock' after ex-Pompey striker Jermain Defoe announced surprise retirement.

‘I'll be honest. It was a bit of a surprise, it was a shock.

‘There weren't a lot of conversations prior to it, he trained that day, he trained well, he was fine, and the next minute we got word that he wanted to call it a day.

‘I have spoken to him since, but at the time I think it was a bit of a shock to everybody. It certainly wasn't something that was being spoken about regularly - maybe behind the scenes, but it wasn't a natural conversation that me and him had had leading up to it.

‘He's made his decision and we have to respect that, and we wish him all the best but we have to move on and try to win these remaining games.’

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