Sunderland star Jermain Defoe has hit out at the media circus which has followed his search for a new personal assistant - insisting he simply needs help with his charity work.
The Black Cats striker made national news earlier this week when Defoe Enterprise Ltd advertised for a highly-experienced personal assistant to help with the 32-year-old’s family’s private, social and business plans.
But Defoe was left frustrated by the attention and derision which accompanied the advert, that listed job requirements ranging from brand management to keeping his house clean.
Defoe says the main duty of his PA will be to help in the running of the Jermain Defoe Foundation, which works with homeless, vulnerable and abused children in St Lucia.
The England international and his family have been sending clothes, food and medical supplies to the Carribean country for several years, while Defoe has also been building his own children’s home, which is on the verge of being completed.
Defoe said: “If I was one of those footballers who was stumbling out of nightclubs, drunk, smoking, then I guess I’d be fair game. But I don’t do any of those things.
If I was one of those footballers who was stumbling out of nightclubs, drunk, smoking, then I guess I’d be fair game. But I don’t do any of those things.Jermain Defoe
“If I wasn’t representing my club or my family in the right way, then I’d have no problem about anyone writing anything they wanted about me.
“But when people are writing about things that are irrelevant, and turning things against me, I don’t think that’s fair.
“People have been writing all kinds of things about this PA stuff, so I want to clear it up.
“The intention from the start, certainly from me, was that the job would be to provide support for my family who have been trying to run my foundation.
“I’ve launched that to build and run a childrens’ home in St Lucia, but I guess the headlines about that aren’t as interesting as the other stuff that was written.
“The help that was needed was going to be focused on the foundation because my family have been doing their best, but it’s becoming a bigger and bigger job.
“It’s things like organising the gala dinners to try to raise funds, organising the trips to St Lucia so I can do my charity work and get the people over there who are needed to make the whole thing run.
“I’ve been building a childrens’ home and it’s nearly complete now.
“I’d rather people talk about that – positive stuff – and talk about my football as well because that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on since I’ve been here.
“I always try to conduct myself in the right way, especially since I’ve been getting older, so it’s frustrating when people are writing stuff that seems so irrelevant.”
Defoe set up the foundation two years ago after initially working with the Holy Family Children’s Home, which had been the only such facilitiy on the island.
That prompted Defoe to build his own children’s home, but after visiting St Lucia in the summer, the former Spurs frontman says he has needed a helping hand in running his charity.
“Am I really doing something that bad? A boy from East London trying to get on in life and do good things,” he added.
“I’ve read that I can’t do this or can’t do that, but yeah, I do pack my own fridge, and yeah, I do go and get the shopping from Waitrose near where I live, most days with my girlfriend.
“I try not to let things get to me, because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to perform, but sometimes that’s harder than others.
“I can deal with things, but when my mum, my sister and the rest of my family are getting frustrated with things as well, it’s hard.
“I’ve dealt with much harder things than that before so ordinarily it wouldn’t bother me, but when your family are involved as well, it’s crossed a line.
“I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. To be honest, I wouldn’t have called it a PA because I’m not someone who would ever say, ‘Oh, this is my PA’.
“But that’s not to say I don’t need someone to help my family do some of the things I can’t do.
“I’ll hold my hand up – I can’t do admin or accounts or stuff like that. I need help to do that, and hopefully that help will in turn help to change lives in St Lucia.
“That’s my passion away from football, but I need help to do that.”