Sunderland winner against Newcastle was something I’ll never forget, says Jermain Defoe

Jermain Defoe celebrates last season's derby winner
Jermain Defoe celebrates last season's derby winner
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Four days before Jermain Defoe’s introduction to the Wear-Tyne derby, he took a seat in the Academy of Light’s press room.

There wasn’t a lot of sitting though.

He was so distracted by the thought of featuring in a game which he had heard so much about from Sunderland’s fellow senior professionals, that his excitement caused him to move up-and-down, side-to-side, in his chair.

“I was like a little kid just eager for the occasion,” he admits six months later, as he reminisces about the build-up to April’s fifth successive victory over the Magpies.

But when that memorable Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon arrived, Defoe’s anticipation didn’t remotely do the occasion justice.

This seasoned England international, who had played at World Cups, the Champions League and in North London derbies was gobsmacked by what he encountered from a game which perhaps still goes largely unnoticed by the country as a whole.

But to score a goal like that with my left foot... maybe those things are just meant to happen

Jermain Defoe

Doubtless it helped that Defoe scored arguably the greatest derby goal of all time, in an atmosphere which was as white-hot as any experienced in the Stadium of Light’s 18 year history.

Yet the 33-year-old was still stunned by the magnitude, ferocity and emotion of the occasion.

“Yes, it did shock me to be honest,” said Defoe.

“I’d played in a North London derby, and I’d always enjoyed them. But it’s just crazy up here.

“I remember driving to the stadium and then you get that fire in your belly and know you have to play well. You get that something extra.

“From the first whistle, everyone was just on it.

“It was just a great day. To win it was special, but to score was something I’ll never forget.

“Even if I’d scored a tap-in, it would have been special.

“But to score a goal like that with my left foot ... maybe those things are just meant to happen.

“When you’ve had those experiences, you just can’t wait until the next time.

“It’s come around again and I’d love to play again, win and score again.”

In a finale to the season which seemed to contain Kleenex-sponsored quantities of joyful tears, Defoe began the trend when he trudged off for half-time struggling to contain his emotions after such a sumptuous long-range volley.

“I was emotional, it’s hard to say why, it just happened,” he said.

“I knew how important the game was and I really wanted to do well.

“People talk about these moments forever.

“When I scored a goal like that, something just came back to me.”

Defoe’s excitement for this season’s visit of Newcastle has been countered both by winless Sunderland’s plight at the bottom of the table, plus his substitute’s role for the last four games.

But Defoe is desperate to be involved on Sunday. After experiencing such an enormous high last season, he understandably has that unquenchable thirst to score the winner again.

“Obviously I’d be buzzing a lot more if I knew I was playing,” he said.

“When you’re not sure, you prepare the same, but you hope you’re not preparing for nothing.

“Training was sharp yesterday, we worked really hard.

“Come Sunday, I think everyone will be flying out the blocks.

“On a personal note, these are the games you want to play in. It would be hard to watch it from the bench.

“I want to play in the big games. I was so excited last year just to see what it’s like and when you get a taste of it, you crave that feeling again.

“The feeling I got when I scored the goal and then after the game.

“Everything about that day was amazing.”

Despite five successive derby defeats, Newcastle head into Sunday’s encounter in good spirits after breaking their duck with a 6-2 rout of Norwich City last weekend.

That result propelled Sunderland back to the basement and left the Black Cats as the only side in the top four divisions without a league win to their name.

But after conceding 19 goals in nine games - the same as Sunderland - Newcastle have a defensive vulnerability which Defoe hopes Sam Allardyce’s can prey upon to set a new record winning streak for the fixture.

“I was at my mum’s for dinner last Sunday and my little nephew came running in saying ‘it’s five’ and then ‘uncle, they’ve scored again’,” added Defoe.

“For them, that’s what they needed. But that game was really open, it could have been 6-6.

“Even though they scored the six goals, I’m sure you can look at areas where you can exploit and create chances.

“At this level, you have to take those chances because we need those points and soon.”