Name: Jermain Defoe
Just under 13 months into his Sunderland career, Jermain Defoe has already flourished into a fans favourite up at the Stadium of Light.
The 33-year-old, who joined the Black Cats from Major League Soccer side Toronto FC only last January, has scored a crucial 17 goals in just 41 first-team appearances for the Premier League club during back-to-back relegation threatened campaigns.
Defoe; who netted 19 goals in 55 international caps for England, has become something like Sunderland’s striking saviour as his impact in the final third of the pitch significantly helped former manager Dick Advocaat save the club from the drop last term, whilst his current goalscoring streak in front of goal is spearheading boss Sam Allardyce’s survival bid as you read this.
The former West Ham United, Tottenham and Portsmouth hitman scored vital goals against Newcastle United (1-0) and Everton (2-0) back in April and May of last year, contributions that proved imperative to Sunderland’s end-of-season stature as the Black Cats finished just three points above the bottom three come May.
Now with Allardyce’s men currently engulfed in another dogfight at the wrong end of the Premier League table; with Sunderland four points adrift of safety after 25 fixtures, Defoe’s exceptional form of netting six goals in his last six league outings has almost single-handedly prevented the Black Cats slipping to rock-bottom and already preparing for life in the Championship this summer.
To further demonstrate Defoe’s importance at the Stadium of Light; defender Patrick van Aanholt (4) is the club’s second highest top goalscorer in all competitions this campaign with less than a third of the Englishman’s tally (13). Without Defoe in their current ranks, Sunderland would have already crashed and burned by now.