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Defoe hit form playing with Emmanuel Adebayor but found starts hard to come by.
In response to an underwhelming year previously, Defoe upped his efforts considerably in 2011-12.
Emmanuel Adebayor had arrived on loan to add extra depth in attack, while Rafael van der Vaart was still a key part of Harry Redknapp's team.
But Defoe was ahead of Roman Pavlyuchenko in the pecking order and making the most of his opportunities when they came, both in goals and the quality of his performances.
Spurs were flying heading into the New Year. Harbouring title ambitions, they sat in third, within reach of Manchester City and with Manchester United just above them.
Having scored to bring them back into the game, Defoe missed a late chance that would have given Spurs the lead in a pivotal January contest with City. Mario Balotelli netted a late penalty to give the eventual champions a 3-2 win, having outrageously avoided dismissal for attempting to put his foot through Scott Parker's skull.
While Defoe continued to deliver when selected, Redknapp bafflingly persevered with the talented but even more inconsistent Louis Saha (who had replaced the departed Pavlyuchenko in January) ahead of him.
Spurs' season tailed off, with them missing out on Champions League qualification after fifth-place Chelsea won the tournament. Defoe finished brightly with a tally of 17 goals in a campaign he could be proud of individually.