There’s a big part of me that hopes the little striker who played such a huge role in Saturday derbies of the past cheers for his first love come kick-off on Saturday afternoon.
Even though I can now watch Jermain Defoe in black and red live from comfortable seats at Chicago Fire (next Saturday at 7 p.m., hopefully he’s fit), I really wish he were wearing the claret and blue instead.
That’s where I wanted him during last January’s transfer window when it was obvious Defoe wouldn’t be remaining with Spurs long-term and the Hammers desperately needed a striker.
Wouldn’t it have been great to get him back after a 10-year absence, and from our arch-rivals at that?
Instead, he chose to come across the water for an awful lot of money and a new opportunity in an exciting venture. It has to be said, the cockney kid has delivered for Toronto FC with 11 goals in 15 games. That’s a pretty good strike rate in a league that’s roughly Championship calibre – not Premier quality to be fair.
However, with players like Defoe, Major League Soccer has improved from the barely watchable stuff it once was. If it keeps getting better and better it could one day rival the best leagues in the world.
As Defoe watches this huge opening match between his former clubs, I’m wondering if he’ll be thinking of his early days at Upton Park, of the 41 goals in 105 matches he scored for us. Just 21 when he left for Spurs, the now 31-year-old scored 137 goals for Spurs in 352 matches.
He pulled on a Hammers or Spurs shirt 457 times and hit the back of the net on 178 occasions. Hard to believe neither Spurs or Hammers could use him.
Guess Toronto FC will have to make the best of Jermain Defoe’s talents. I’ll let you know how he’s doing from my perch 20 yards away over here.