Former Rangers, Tottenham and West Ham United striker Jermain Defoe has announced his retirement from professional football.
The 39-year-old re-joined Sunderland at the end of the January transfer window after leaving Rangers in December, who he had won the Scottish Premiership with in record-breaking fashion last season.
But after making just seven appearances in his second spell with the Black Cats, Defoe has decided to bring the curtain down on his lengthy professional career - confirming his decision in an emotional statement released on his Twitter account.
"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 wrote. "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 remain 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.
"Lastly, 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."
Defoe retires as the ninth highest goalscorer in Premier League history, having scored 162 league goals during spells at West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Bournemouth.
Source : 90min