|Jermain Defoe's transfer to
Tottenham from West Ham United, completed just minutes before the
transfer window closed, was a shock move and his welcome to the club was
a warm one ... mainly thanks to a large interest from the Press at the
conference held to introduce him as a Spurs player.
David Pleat and Defoe took the top table
at Spurs Lodge and faced the Press. Pleat started by comparing the
England striker to former Spurs strikers Gary Lineker and Clive Allen
and when asked why Tottenham had paid out for the young forward, the
Director of Football said that there were many advantages to having a
player like Defoe. He brings things that complement the skills of
the other forwards and they al have different strengths. With
Premier League games being so tight, Pleat said that one goal can make a
difference and take a lot of heat off the other players in the
side. Jermain has scored 67 goals in just over 120 games, so has
an astonishing strike rate and Pleat said that few players of his age
can have done so much at such a high level, so Tottenham knew what they
were getting when they moved for him. Being a British player and a
London boy, the move will be an easy one for him, as there will not be
too much change for him to cope with.
With the signing of another young player,
Pleat said that the club were "building an asset base" of
quality players and with an eye to producing a young team for the
future. He said that the club were aiming to get back into Europe
on a regular basis and that the team would be brighter and more youthful
with the signings made of late, by which I suppose he means is since
Hoddle has left.
The transfer request he made straight
after West Ham had been relegated was brought up and he considered it a
mistake and Defoe said he had apologised for it a few times since, but
he is young and still learning from mistakes he has made. He
confirmed that the transfer request had never been withdrawn, but Pleat
explained that while the public hear this term, they do not understand
that the request never gets "withdrawn" but stays there, but
is not acted on.
With Pleat mentioning the effervescent
personality and how he is always the one who is keenest to train,
Jermain said he was the same - always the first out and last one back
from training. He was keen to get playing with Fredi Kanoute
again, after linking up at West Ham and the other players in the
squad. Jermain went on to add that he wants to improve his game
and sees this as a step in that direction. He was always watching
his former team-mates Johnson, Lampard, Cole and Sinclair in the
Premiership, but was not jealous of the other players leaving the club,
while being left behind. He said that every time he went out on
the pitch for West Ham, he always did his best and thanked the Irons
fans for their support during his time there.
Defoe was asked if he was frustrated in
his time at West Ham this season as he had been subject to three sending
offs so far. He denied that and said that having scored 15 goals,
he had shown that a commitment to the team. However, he regards
Tottenham as a massive club and that he was ambitious and wanted to win
things, believing that he can do that at Tottenham. Jermain added
that he was learning as he went along his career and he would learn from
the red cards he had received, because he does not want to miss any more
games than he has to because he wants to play as much as possible.
Questioned about the fact that there is
not a permanent manager in place at Spurs, Defoe said he did not see
this as a problem, as he was happy to come and work with whoever was at
the club now and looked forward to
A place with England and going to Euro
2004 came up and Jermain thought that he was not disadvantaged by
playing in the First Division, but that coming to Tottenham, he would be
more in the public eye plying his trade in the Premier League, so in
that respect he was keen to get break in the squad and hoped to impress
Sven Goran Eriksson with his play.
There was great interest about how the
move came about and Jermain faced a lot of questions about when he hear
about Tottenham's interest. He said he was sitting at home
on Sunday, not expecting anything to happen and was looking forward to
playing against Bradford City on Saturday ("if selected") when
he got the call. The transfer was discussed with his family and
agent and once he had made up his mind that was it.
Pleat was obviously happy to have
captured his man as he was in good form, asking "What is this, a
murder trial ?" when Jermain was asked where exactly he was when he
found out of Tottenham's interest !! When asked if he had
consulted the new manager on the signing, he said he has consulted all
of them and his wife too !!
All in all, the event was upbeat with
Pleat singing the praises of his new signing and although he would not
commit himself (or the new manager) to when or where Defoe might fit in
up front, the general tone was that he would play the poacher's
role. He said the speed and stealth of Defoe plus the fact
that he can strike without a discernible back-lift will aid the team in
converting pressure into goals.
One last interesting thing that Pleat let
slip was that the figure attributed to Defoe's transfer was not the one
that had been quoted in the press today, with the fee being paid over a
period of time and the total being a slightly less guaranteed amount
than that bandied about.