Sunderland star eyes goalden path

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JERMAIN DEFOE is already looking to follow in the footsteps of Sunderland’s scoring greats.

Defoe was brought to the Stadium of Light last week tasked with solving Sunderland’s goal problems, with Gus Poyet’s side netting just 19 times in their 22 Premier League outings so far this season.

But the England striker is relishing that responsibility, with only 14 goals separating him from breaking into the list of the top 10 strikers in the Premier League era – a feat he hopes to achieve during his three-and-a-half year contract on Wearside.

Defoe also wants to make his mark on Sunderland history and emulate the likes of former European Golden Boot winner Kevin Phillips and ex-Spurs team-mate Darren Bent – someone who encouraged him to move to Wearside – by becoming a lethal marksman for the Black Cats in the Premier League.

He told the Echo: “When I’ve gone to other clubs, I’ve always looked at the other forwards.

“Even towards the end of my time at Tottenham, I spoke to the press guys and asked if they could give me the list of the top 10 highest goalscorers at the club, just for a challenge and an incentive.

“Maybe at some stage here, I’ll get a list to see how many goals players have scored and try to beat that, just to keep that hunger.

“I’ve always known how special the fans are here.

“All I want to do is come here and score goals like the other great forwards who have been at this club.

“I’ve always believed that if I get chances in games, I’ll score goals.”

Defoe was keen to return to the Premier League this month after a 12-month spell in the MLS with Toronto FC, and there were no shortage of suitors.

But with Toronto willing to exchange Defoe for Sunderland flop Jozy Altidore, the Black Cats were able to beat off competition from a host of sides in the bottom half of the table.

Defoe doesn’t regret his move to the MLS, but says he simply missed the Premier League and was glad to seal his switch to Sunderland more than a fortnight before the frenzy of transfer deadline day.

“People always say I went to the MLS too early, but I don’t know because I enjoyed it,” said the 32-year-old.

“I met some good people and it was a good experience – a lot of travelling, but something different.

“I don’t regret it because I had a great time there.

“I enjoyed it, but I just missed the Premier League. That’s all it was.

“I sat back and thought if I got the opportunity to go back, then it’s something I’d consider.

“A lot of the time, the deals always happen at the last minute, but I was fit and available.

“Coming from a different league, and I was here anyway training after the season finished in October, maybe that’s why it happened so quickly.”

Defoe had been tipped for a fourth spell at a London club, but says he had no reservations over moving to the North East, and has already been house-hunting.

“I’ve always been a London boy, but it’s exciting,” he added.

“A lot of people said ‘don’t you want to stay in London?’ But I’ve been in London my whole life and it’s not that far!”