‘Poyet factor’ huge in Jermain Defoe signing for Sunderland

Sunderland's Jermain Defoe shakes hands with manager Gus Poyet as he is substituted in the second half during the Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane, London.
Sunderland's Jermain Defoe shakes hands with manager Gus Poyet as he is substituted in the second half during the Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane, London.
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JERMAIN Defoe says he decided to join Sunderland as soon as he had spoken to former Spurs team-mate Gus Poyet.

Sunderland new boy Defoe was being pursued by a host of Premier League clubs in this transfer window, as he looked to return to England after a year-long spell with MLS outfit Toronto FC.

But it was a conversation with Sunderland boss Poyet, who played alongside Defoe and was later his assistant manager at White Hart Lane, which prompted the 32-year-old to move to the Stadium of Light.

Defoe, who was introduced to the press today, said: “It’s always mad and hectic when the window opens and you turn the TV on and there’s all the speculation, especially around me.

“I remember reading there were 10 clubs interested or something like that.

“It got to the stage where I thought, I’m not going to watch the TV.

“And then I got a phone call from Gus.

“I pretty much made my mind up there and then.

“I knew him from before and he spoke about how he wants to play, spoke about the club.

“Gus is an honest guy and I’ve always spoken to him over the years.”

Defoe was persistently linked with a move to Sunderland under the regimes of previous Black Cats managers Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio, although that interest never developed into anything concrete.

But the England international says he always had a positive impression of the club after being given glowing references by ex-Spurs team-mates and former Sunderland duo Darren Bent and Danny Rose.

“I’ve spoken to a few of my friends who’ve played for this club - Darren Bent and Danny Rose, who was on loan here,” added Defoe.

“They all said it’s an unbelievable place with unbelievable fans, and the staff at the football club treat the players great.

“They said that if you get the chance to come here, then take it.

“So I pretty much made my mind up there and then (when he spoke to Poyet).”