Belfast Telegraph

Hot-shot Defoe's sober approach paying dividends

By Jason Mellor

Saturday nights for Jermain Defoe are usually no more high-octane than spent sat sipping green tea in front of Match of the Day, and such is his aversion to alcohol, he recently asked a restaurant to prepare a white wine sauce without the white wine.

But dig a little deeper than the endearingly quirky anecdotes, and there is a more sombre reason behind the teetotal lifestyle that has underpinned his longevity in the game.

The Sunderland forward hopes to add to his impressive career goal tally at Liverpool today after drawing level with Michael Owen in seventh place on the all-time Premier League scorers' chart when finding the net for the 150th time in the 3-0 victory over Hull City that lifted David Moyes' side off the bottom of the table last week.

Defoe celebrated the milestone with a quiet night in watching Gary Lineker et al discuss his prowess in front of goal. He confesses his main vice these days is bubble gum, which he buys by the box-load.

The 34-year-old, whose 18 goals make him the second highest scoring Englishman in at the highest level in 2016 after Tottenham's Harry Kane, has been touted for a return to the international fold for his consistent form with the Wearside club since he returned to this country almost two years ago, following a stint at MLS side Toronto FC.

Defoe says thoughts of retirement remain well in the future thanks to an adherence to a strict diet and fitness regime, allied to his abstinence from alcohol at a time when players' 'refuelling' habits are under increased scrutiny following the polarised public reaction to the photos of Wayne Rooney appearing worse for wear while the England captain was on international duty earlier this month.

The former Tottenham and West Ham forward revealed that his strict stance on alcohol is in part due to his father Jimmy, who died from throat cancer in 2012, being a heavy drinker, and he said: "I don't drink, because I don't think I need to. When I finish playing one day I can say to myself 'you know I did everything right'. That's the time when you can enjoy yourself and, I suppose, drink although I don't think I'll really drink. I've never said it before, my dad used to drink a lot so that's one of the reasons why I don't.

"My mum has said over the years 'try not to drink if you can'. I tried alcohol years ago - my sister and my step-dad they love red wine so I had a little taste, but to actually have a drink to get drunk, to have a few drinks, I never do it."

Having been the subject of tabloid headlines over his private life, Defoe admits he is 'no angel', and he is not attempting to preach to his peers over their lifestyle, but he added: "I think you get more out of yourself if you don't drink. I'm not saying I don't do anything wrong.

"But I do try to do the right things. If you look after yourself and you don't drink, you eat the right things, you have rests, you sleep then you feel ready for the game at the weekend and you've given yourself the best chance because you've not gone out drinking."

Belfast Telegraph

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