Jermain Defoe completed his move to Sunderland today on a three-and-a-half year deal that saw the less prolific former Black Cats striker Jozy Altidore head in the opposite to the 'Great White North' and Toronto FC.
But it has been revealed today just why Defoe was so adamant in leaving Major League Soccer after just one year in his new surroundings. According to a report from the Daily Mail, a combination of homesickness, injury troubles and bullying from Toronto fans led to the former England international pining for home - well the North East at least.
Defoe was the focal point of everything Toronto, signing at the same time US mens national team star Michael Bradley the two were front and centre of every marketing campaign and press conference the team held. They were to be stars, the biggest names in Toronto, but Defoe suddenly realised that TFC are maybe the third biggest team at best in the city behind the Raptors and Maple Leafs - both teams who pay their stars far more than Defoe was on despite being MLS' highest paid player.
And then their was the injuries. Defoe settled well with his new teammates at BMO Field, netting 11 times in 16 appearances for The Reds. But various knocks and muscle strains kept keeping him off the team sheet, with fans starting to question Defoe's commitment to the cause and ability to play through the pain barrier like North American's are used to seeing their stars do in football, basketball, baseball and hockey.
‘There are a few fans who have said certain things and I’m like, “Well, that’s a bit harsh”,’ Defoe said in October. ‘If you want someone to stay at a football club, at least support them. At least show them that you want them to be here.’
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Failed Summer Move
The final nail in the coffin for Defoe's MLS adventure was the firing of Ryan Nelsen as TFC's head coach. Nelsen was the man who convinced his former Tottenham teammate to make the move. A deal was nearly agreed for a return to the Premier League on transfer deadline day back at the start of September with Harry Redknapp's QPR but Toronto raised their demands at the last minute.
Crystal Palace, Hull and Rangers were in for Defoe again but Gus Poyet won out in the battle for the goalscorer with the £80,000-a-week probably doing enough to sway the 32-year old's decision.