TORONTO – Jermain Defoe’s 2014 season may be over, but the English forward has another objective in mind now: getting fit, healthy and back on the pitch.
Speaking to reporters at training Thursday, Defoe provided more details on the severity of the groin injury that kept him out of 14 games this season and said he’ll likely have surgery to address the problem. He also addressed the criticism he’s received over his commitment to TFC.
He said when he returned to action most recently, after missing six games, he wasn’t 100 percent.
“I remember the game against New York [Oct. 11], I just really struggled in the second half,” he said. “I wasn’t really Jermain Defoe; I couldn’t really turn sharp or hit any shots. I tried to adapt my game just to be on the pitch and help the team but in the end not really helping myself because I didn’t perform the way I normally do.”
Toronto FC’s doctors have arranged a visit with a specialist in Germany, and Defoe said he expects the surgery to have him running again soon.
“It’s something I need fixing because it’s stopping me from what I really want to do in games,” Defoe said. “... I tried everything. I tried resting. I got treatment in London. … The New York game, in the second half, I was just in pain.”
He’ll be looking forward to the rest, too, as Defoe has played two seasons’ worth of football in the course of one year, having gone through almost the entirety of the Premier League season with Tottenham before making the switch to Toronto FC.
And, Defoe said, he’s hoping he can show fans in the city that he is committed to playing for Toronto FC.
When asked if he felt mischaracterized this year, Defoe gave a quick response: “One-hundred percent.”
He continued: “You read things, and obviously social media is powerful, and I see things from the fans. I try not to read it, but I’m only human. But obviously I want to read things, and you want people to like you, you want the fans to realize that you love playing for the club and you love football.
“Sometimes I read it and I think to myself, ‘Are they talking about me? They must be getting the wrong person,’” he added. “I suppose it’s part and parcel of playing football, and I’ll take it on the chin. I’m professional, and as long as I know in my heart is that I’m committed then I suppose the rest doesn’t really bother me.”
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As for his future, Defoe and TFC head coach Greg Vanney, along with team general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, will sit down and talk ahead of the team’s locker-room clear outs on Tuesday.
“In football, I’ve never come out and said publically that I want to leave a football club,” Defoe said. “In the end of the day, I don’t know what the future holds, but I will say that I was desperate to get into the playoffs and it’s something that I would love to experience.”
Vanney said he isn’t sure what to expect from Defoe.
“What I’m not sure is, now that he’s spent a year in this league, what are his true feelings about this league and this decision he’s made,” Vanney said. “Does he want to really see this out, and is this really where he wants to push his career? These are all conversations that we’re going to have once this season closes.
“We would like to have him back if he’s ready to play and his mind is in the right place and believes in the project.”