Football stars pay tribute as Jermain Defoe announces retirement

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After more than two decades of service to football, veteran striker Jermain Defoe has announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 39.

The former England international recently joined Sunderland from Rangers in the January transfer window but decided to hang up his boots with over a month of league action.

The former striker made seven appearances in his second spell with the Black Cats, capping a career where he played 763 times and scored 305 goals for eight different clubs.

Jermain Defoe has left Sunderland and announced his retirement. Photo: Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Although his contract with the League One club was to last until the end of the season, the former West Ham, Tottenham and Portsmouth star felt it was time to hang up his boots.

“After 22 years in the game, I have decided to retire from professional football,” Defoe said on social media.

“It was a very difficult decision, and I discussed it with my family and those close to me.”

Jermain Defoe scored hundreds of goals in his career but has now retired. EPA/GERRY PENNY

“I made my professional debut at 17 in 1999, and I think it’s a good time to step down. I’ve had an amazing journey and 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 I had. I now look forward to spending quality time with my friends and family before to embark on this next chapter of my career.

Defoe ended up earning 57 caps for England, scoring 20 goals and was part of the squad that made it to the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

On Twitter, former players and ex-teammates of the streamlined striker were quick to pay tribute to his decorated career.

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