When the news hit that Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney was to miss the start of Euro 2012, many names were tossed around as potential replacements to fill the England man’s giant boots. Fulham’s internationally inexperienced Bobby Zamora, Aston Villa’s talismanic Darren Bent, Arsenal’s flying Theo Walcott and Stoke’s reborn Peter Crouch have all been tipped to fill the void left by Rooney.
Many, however, are missing the one man that has always been overlooked and shunned on an international level.
That man is Tottenham’s favourite son Jermain Defoe.
Defoe has been doing the job in the Premier League for years, amassing 74 goals in 215 appearances during two stints at Tottenham. Defoe has also scored an impressive 14 goals in 30 appearances at Portsmouth under current Tottenham and potentially future England boss Harry Redknapp. Internationally, since 2004 Defoe has only managed 46 international caps, scoring 15 goals; however, the majority of these caps have come from the substitute’s bench.
Defoe can be disappointed at being left at home in 2006 in favour of complete wildcard Theo Walcott, who played no part in England’s campaign. In hindsight, the early injury to Michael Owen opened the door for Defoe as a like-for-like replacement.
In South Africa Defoe notched an important goal against Slovenia after latching onto a James Milner cross, one of the few positives from a poor campaign as it also ensured England made the round of 16.
Defoe is a traditional “poacher” and it has been some time since we have seen England spearheaded by such a diminutive and mobile player.
The main argument made against Defoe is that he does not offer enough creativity and drive going forward like Rooney does. However, the likes of Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, Scott Parker and Stewart Downing all provide flair and an exceptional passing game while creating a nice balance of youth and Premier League experience.
Maybe it is time to simply let an English striker do their job: score goals.
Too many times in South Africa Rooney would lose patience and drop deep, leaving England needing up front. Defoe has coined the term for himself “fox in the box” and having a striker with such speed and deadly accuracy is always a danger. While there can be cases made for all the strikers previously mentioned and all should be tried at some point prior to Euro 2012, we cannot look past Crouch and Defoe’s scoring record together.
During the process of finding an appropriate replacement for Rooney, Fabio Cappello should take a look at the man who has so often been denied what he has deserved.
That man is Jermain Defoe.
At 29 years of age this now really is Defoe’s last chance to show the class and raw goal-scoring ability we all know he has on an international level.