Jermain Defoe relishing Sunderland challenge as move is confirmed

Welcome: New Sunderland signing Jermain Defoe
Welcome: New Sunderland signing Jermain Defoe

JERMAIN DEFOE insists he is eagerly awaiting a fresh start at Sunderland after completing his move to the Stadium of Light.

Defoe was today unveiled by Sunderland after penning a three-and-a-half year deal with the Black Cats.

The 32-year-old arrives from MLS side Toronto FC in what is essentially a straight swap for fellow frontman Jozy Altidore, who ends his miserable 18-month spell with the Black Cats.

Sunderland hope Defoe, the 14th highest ever scorer in the Premier League’s history, will prove the answer to their goal problems and the England international is glad to be back in his homeland after a year in the MLS.

Defoe said: “I am delighted to be here and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“It is a great club and I’ve always enjoyed coming up here and playing against Sunderland because of the stadium and the supporters. It is a great place to play and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Sunderland were keen to boost their attacking options in the January window after netting just 18 goals in the opening 21 Premier League games.

And with Altidore going more than 13 months without a top flight goal, the switch has proved beneficial for all parties.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet, a former team-mate of Defoe, said: “I am thrilled that Jermain is a Sunderland player. I know all about his attributes and his qualities first-hand and his exceptional goal-scoring record speaks for itself.

“He has something different, something special.

“We know each other very well - he was very young when we played together and I was coming to the end of my career, so I know him from inside the pitch.

“When I returned to Spurs as a coach it was a great experience for me to work with him, so I am really looking forward to having him as my player now and for him to be part of our team.

“I would also like to thank Jozy as his begins his career at his new club. It is a fresh start for him and we wish him well.”

Defoe had been a target for a host of Premier League rivals, including Crystal Palace, Leicester, QPR and Hull.

But with Sunderland willing to sign him on a permanent basis and make him the highest-paid player at the club, the Black Cats landed the ex-Spurs striker.

Sporting director Lee Congerton added: “Jermain is a player who has proven his quality in the Premier League.

“Naturally, with a player of his calibre, there was a lot of interest in him, not only in England but across Europe, so we are delighted that he has chosen to come to Sunderland.”

Sunderland are hopeful that Defoe’s international clearance will come through in time for him to face Spurs tomorrow.