TORONTO – Jermain Defoe returned to Toronto on Wednesday and addressed the rumours of a potential move back to the English Premier League – specifically to Queens Park Rangers – that had the city on high alert back on transfer deadline day.
In a press conference held at the team’s training grounds, Defoe made it clear that speculation is completely normal, but he had no intention of leaving Toronto FC.
“The QPR thing, that’s out of my control,” Defoe said. “If a club comes in for a player, then as a player, you just sort of like sit back and you let the club deal with it. It’s not my fault that a club comes in. But nothing happened anyway and in my heart, I didn’t think anything was going to happen anyway. In my heart, I couldn’t really see me getting sold to another football club. It didn’t make any sense.”
The rumors of a move to QPR were fuelled on transfer deadline day when Harry Redknapp, Defoe’s old manager at Tottenham, said he was looking to complete a transfer for the striker, and that Defoe wanted to return to the Premier League.
Defoe says that’s just the way Redknapp is.
“He always says that, Harry always says that,” Defoe said. “Even before the window was open, sometimes he’d call me. Obviously Harry’s going to come out and say that because he knows the relationship I’ve got with him, he knows I love playing for him. But, Harry saying that is not in my control.”
Redknapp also spoke to Defoe about a possible loan in the offseason. Defoe was open to the idea, citing Robbie Keane’s spells back in the Premier League as an example.
But Defoe says he never had any intention of leaving.
“I remember reading something and it said I texted Ryan Nelsen saying that, well, if you’re gone, then I’m leaving also – that’s not true,” Defoe said. “That’s hard to sit back and read something like that when I know that’s not true. I would never do something like that.”
He also acknowledged team owner MLSE's president and CEO Tim Leiweke’s comments from a couple weeks ago. Leiweke said that if Defoe didn’t want to be here, he should get out of the way.
“Tim sent me a message basically saying that he didn’t mean it like that,” Defoe said. “He knows what sort of character and what sort of person I am; otherwise I wouldn’t be here in the first place.”
Toronto FC’s players are, of course, glad to have him back, after being ruled out with a groin injury for the better part of the last two months.
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Defoe said he’s feeling good, and getting back in the rhythm of movement as he prepares to return to action. He explained that his initial scan back in July indicated a strain in his lower abdominal muscle and abductor. However, the soreness didn’t go away over time. So, he spoke with then-head coach Ryan Nelsen, who told him to go visit a physiotherapist in England, one that Defoe has been using for a number of years.
He feared he had a hernia, something that might need an operation to fix. Nelsen told Defoe that he had a similar injury, one that Nelsen had an operation for. But Defoe’s doctor told him that there was a problem in his hip, and put him on a course of injections instead. He was one day away from having an operation and says he won’t need one in the offseason should things go well in the coming days.
Defoe said he expects to be back to full training come Monday and is already participating in light training. However, there does appear to be a chance he could get the nod this weekend, as TFC head coach Greg Vanney says he’s questionable for Saturday's encounter with the Portland Timbers at BMO Field (1 pm ET, MLS Stream of the Week).