Sunderland ace Jermain Defoe admits: 'I thought my England career was over'

Jermain Defoe
Jermain Defoe
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Jermain Defoe is 'buzzing' to be back in the England squad - after admitting he thought his international career was over.

The 34-year-old has not appeared for his country since 2013 but his goal scoring exploits have earned a call-up ahead of a friendly with Germany and World Cup qualifier with Lithuania.

Injuries to Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Harry Kane had left boss Gareth Southgate light on numbers, with Sunderland's 14-goal top scorer rewarded with a recall.

Defoe won the last of his 55 senior caps against Chile almost four years ago.

Asked if he thought his international days were over, he said: "Yes, 100 per cent because if I am being totally honest, I thought I would have had a chance last season, finishing the third-highest English goalscorer behind Kane and Vardy.

"But it wasn't meant to be and then I started to think: 'You know what? Maybe it's just not going to happen'. But I didn't really complain or anything.

"I just got my head down and carried on doing what I am doing, managed to score my goals - I have got 14 league goals with 11 games to go - and I have always said when you keep producing and you keep doing well and keep working hard, it can only be a matter of time before you are selected."

Defoe learned of his return in a call from Southgate.

He said: "It was funny because on the iPhones, it pops up on the screen, but you don't see the full message.

"I just saw the name. I thought, 'Gareth? I don't know a Gareth, who's this?', so I put my phone down.

"Then I looked at it - 'Hi Jermain, it's Gareth Southgate, can I give you a call when you're free?', and I said: 'Yes, no problem' and we just had a chat, really, about how I felt about England.

"We had a good chat. He's a nice guy, someone who I played against, so we had a little laugh about that."

Defoe's recall could prove extra special as five-year-old Bradley Lowery is due to be mascot for the Lithuania game.

Defoe said: "I have always looked forward to playing for England.

"It's the pinnacle, you don't get any higher than that, so it will be a good feeling - and even more so now because I think Bradley is going to be mascot, so that's going to be special again and I am just delighted that I am involved," he told the club website.

Southgate is looking to the future but wants competition and is confident Defoe can make an impact, while also refusing to rule anyone out of his plans for the 2018 World Cup.

When asked about World Cup selection, he said: "I think it is impossible to say for any of the players.

"Year after year Jermain is phenomenal but particularly this season in a team that perhaps aren’t creating as many chances as other teams.

"His strike rate is outstanding so I didn’t want to just look at his age and think 'he is finished with England'."

Meanwhile, Jordan Pickford is in the Under-21 squad for ties against Germany and Denmark.

Pickford is likely to be a key part of England’s side at next summer’s Under-21 European Championships.