Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe loves scoring goals but also loves helping young people
There is more to Jermain Defoe than putting the ball in the back of the net.
Sunderland fans, team-mates and management are grateful that the 34-year-old is damn good at his primary sporting role.
Defoe might be closer to the end of his career than the start, but his ambition burns brighter than ever, the hunger for goals driving him on to even greater heights.
The cockney loves Sunderland – the feeling is mutual – and he loves scoring in the famous red and white stripes.
But Defoe is more than an expert goal-getter, he is also human being of it seems the highest order.
In an era when the top-earning footballers are reputedly out of touch with reality, the ex-England striker is doing his bit, and more, to help some of the world’s poorest young people.
“I set up the Jermain Defoe Foundation for under-privileged and disadvantaged children in St Lucia,” he said in an interview with talkSPORT.
“A lot of people come up to me and say ‘it’s amazing, we didn’t know problems like this existed in St Lucia’.
“When everyone thinks of the island they think it’s a honeymoon location with all these nice hotels.
“There is all that but there are so many problems for the kids in St Lucia. There was only one recognised children’s home on the island, which was really small.
“After we set up the Jermain Defoe Foundation we held a gala dinner to raise funds to build another children’s home. There are now two children’s homes on the island.
“We are looking to do another dinner in the summer to raise more money and improve things further.
“People can go on-line to the website which is jermaindefoefoundation.org to learn more about it and we are looking for volunteers to come in and help.”
Defoe is obviously a man in form, on and off the park.
On it, three goals in the last four games have helped Sunderland to three precious wins.
When he left for Toronto in 2014 many assumed he was going to see out his days in the lucrative MLS. Wrong, he returned to England and headed north of London for the first time in his career to play for Sunderland.
And he says there are no plans to hang up his golden boots.
“You can’t play football forever, but at the minute I don’t feel like I’m 34!” he said. “I feel good, it’s probably the sharpest and strongest I’ve felt for a long time.
“I feel confident and you believe every chance you get you are going to score. At the minute that’s my mindset and I just can’t wait until the next game.
“I feel that every time I play I’m going to score.”
Defoe was asked by the talkSPORT presenters whether he had heard anything from new England boss Gareth Southgate.
Despite being the leading English scorer in the top flight, with only Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane having scored more in 2016, he continues NOT to feature in Three Lions squads.
“Whatever I do, I never give up,” said Defoe who would relish a recall, even if he is not holding his breath.
“People come up to me and say ‘why are you not in the England squad?’ and I never know what to say. When I was in the England squad I was in on merit, I was scoring goals and playing well.
“I’ve not heard anything. It’s not that I’ve given up, but it gets to a point when I think it almost doesn’t matter what I do. Even if I get the golden boot I don’t think I’d get called up.”