Jermain Defoe has paid tribute to the Sunderland support as he prepares for what is likely to be his final home game in a red and white shirt.
A host of Premier League clubs are interested in the 34-year-old, who will be available on a free following the Black Cats’ relegation.
The striker ended a goal drought that had run over 1000 minutes in the closing stages against Hull City, and is now eyeing more as he looks to end on a high.
He said: “We don’t know exactly what is going in but I think it’s well documented, I’m a free agent. It is a difficult situation, it is going to be emotional. You never know in football, I remember when I left Tottenham, it was hard because of the relationship I had with the fans, it was a decision I had to make for football reasons.
“I went and I came back. For the next three games I’m going to give everything I can and if turns out to be my last home game, I want to show the fans that I appreciate them, every song they’ve sung, every minute they’ve supported the team, all the lads.
“Even when I’ve stopped playing I’d always like to come back and watch the games, help the club in any way I can really, to give something back the younger lads coming through. It is a special place, the fans are unbelievable. Every player who plays for this club says the same, it will be hard to go somewhere else and find fans like this.”
Defoe was on Monday night voted the supporters’ player of the year, with Jordan Pickford picking up the young player award.
The striker thanked fans for their support and vowed to push for a morale boosting victory against Swansea on Saturday.
He said: “It’s special, voted by the fans, everyone knows I have a special relationship with them. I want to thank them for voting for me. From day at this football club all I’ve wanted to do is score goals and give something back. I feel like I’ve done that. There are mixed feelings, I’m happy I won but the season didn’t work out how I’d hope.”
”It doesn’t matter how you look at it, it is three games that you want to try and win, it is a case of trying to give something back to the fans and giving them something to cheer about. Last home game of the season, against a Swansea side that are desperate for points, it is important.”