Former Tottenham and England striker Jermain Defoe has officially announced his retirement as a professional footballer.
Defoe, 39, signed off his playing days with a second stint at Sunderland after joining from Rangers in January, making seven appearances before making the decision to call time on his career.
In a statement on Twitter, Defoe wrote to his fans that it was ‘the right time to bow out’ after ‘an incredible journey and said football would ‘always be in my blood’.
‘After 22 years in the game, I have decided to retire from professional football. It’s been a really tough decision, and one I have discussed with my family and those closest to me.
‘I made my professional debut at 17 years old in 1999, and I feel now is the right time to bow out. I have had an incredible journey, and have met some amazing people in the game.
Football will always be in my blood, and it gives me great pride and satisfaction to look back on the blessed career that I’ve had. I now look forward to spending some quality time with my friends and family before moving forward on this next chapter in my career.
‘Thank you to all the fans from each club I’ve played for. The love I have received and endured throughout my career will never be forgotten, and I will always have a special bond with you all.
‘Thank you also to my amazing team-mates, coaches and staff for playing such an integral part in my career.