London, March 24 (IANS) Former England striker Jermain Defoe on Thursday announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 39. The 39-year old scored 304 goals in 762 career club games and added 20 goals in 57 England appearances.
“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,” Defoe said in a statement on Twitter.
“I made my professional debut at 17 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. I now look forward to spending some quality time with my friends and family before moving forward on this next chapter in my career,” he added.
At club level, he played for English teams West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth and Sunderland as well as Rangers in Scotland. Defoe is the ninth-highest scorer in Premier League history with 162 goals in 496 appearances.
His last and final appearance of his career saw him come on as a substitute for Sunderland in a 0-0 draw at Lincoln in a third-division match on Saturday.
The footballer also paid tribute to supporters, teammates, coaches and staff at the teams he’s played for before reserving a special thank you to his mother.
“I want to say thank you to my mum. You gave me a ball at two years old, and you made me believe my dream could happen. All that I am is because of you, and I owe everything to you and God,” he said.