Toronto FC announced Friday that it has reached a transfer agreement with English Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and has signed English international forward Jermain Defoe as a Designated Player. Defoe will remain at Tottenham until February 28 before joining Toronto FC ahead of the start of the 2014 season. Defoe will be introduced to Toronto at a media conference on Monday, January 13.
Defoe, 31, is currently in his 16th season as a professional football player, and 11th with Tottenham Hotspur F.C. (Tottenham). He has made a combined 362 appearances for Tottenham, scoring 142 goals across the English Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Europa League matches.
“We are thrilled, for our club and for our fans, with the opportunity to bring a global football superstar like Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC,” said Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke. “We promised our fans in October that building a winning club was our top priority and we scoured the globe to find the right players to fulfill that promise. Right from the beginning of this process, Jermain Defoe was the top player on our list and we got our man. We would like to thank Tottenham as well as MLSE ownership for this very clear demonstration of our commitment to winning. Most importantly, we want to thank Toronto FC fans for their patience and support getting to this day.”
As part of the transfer agreement between the two clubs, Tottenham, Toronto FC and MLSE will enter into a groundbreaking, four-year Advertising Rights Agreement. The deal will see Toronto FC and MLSE provide promotional and branding opportunities, experiential activities and advertising, broadcasting, social media and digital rights across all of MLSE’s properties and media platforms. Additionally, MLSE will carry Tottenham Hotspur F.C. official merchandise at their retail outlets, as well as support the THFC Official Canadian Supporter's Club.
Defoe began his junior career at Charlton Athletic F.C. and was enrolled into the FA National School of Excellence in 1997. From there, Defoe moved to West Ham United F.C. (West Ham) and turned professional at the age of 16. He won the Premier Academy League title in the 1999-00 season with West Ham; and went on to make his first team debut in September 2000.
He was loaned to second division club, A.F.C. Bournemouth for the 2000-01 season and made 29 appearances and scored 18 goals. He returned to West Ham the following season where he led the team in goals with 14. He remained with West Ham after the club was relegated following the 2002-03 season until transferring to Tottenham in February, 2004. He found immediate success at Tottenham scoring seven goals in 15 matches to close the 2003-04 campaign. Defoe added 13 goals the following season and was named the club’s “Player of the Year” for the 2004 calendar year.
Defoe remained with Tottenham until transferring to Portsmouth F.C. (Portsmouth) in January 2008. He stayed at Portsmouth until January 2009 before transferring back to Tottenham. Defoe had instant scoring success upon his return to Tottenham during the 2009-10 season, recording three hat-tricks, including a five goal game against Wigan Athletic in November. He finished the season with a combined 24 goals in his first full season back at White Hart Lane. Defoe continued his successful strike rate in his second spell with Tottenham, scoring 74 goals across all competitions. This season, Defoe took over as Tottenham’s fifth highest goal scorer of all-time from George Hunt. Defoe also became Tottenham’s all-time leader in European goals scored with 23, surpassing Martin Chivers.
“Jermain brings the complete package to Toronto FC,” said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “He is an accomplished scorer and I know that his skill and infectious personality will make him a popular star both in Toronto and around the League.”
He has earned 55 caps and scored 19 goals to date for the English National Team, with his first appearance March 4, 2004, when he appeared as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to Sweden. Defoe’s first goal for England came during his first start September 8, 2004 in a FIFA World Cup Qualifying match against Poland. Defoe was a member of England’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad, and helped secure its progression from the group stage, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Slovenia. Defoe was also part of England’s UEFA Euro 2012 squad. His most recent cap came on November 15, 2013 during a friendly match against Chile.
Toronto FC will welcome Jermain’s former club to BMO Field on July 23 when it plays Tottenham in the second game of their 2014 summer tour.
JERMAIN DEFOE #18
Weight: 143 lbs.
Birthdate: October 7, 1982
Birth Place: Beckton, London, England
Hometown: Beckton, London, England
Last Club: Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
How Acquired: Transferred & signed for Toronto FC on Friday, January 10, 2014
Pronunciation: “Jurr-main Da-foe”