Former Toronto FC designated player Jermain Defoe was asked about his time in MLS recently, and it seems he has a much more positive outlook than perhaps we thought. The Bournemouth striker played just one season with the Reds, 2014, before skipping town (he was sent to Sunderland in exchange for Jozy Altidore).
In an interview with ESPN FC, he spoke highly of North America’s top flight, as well as the city of Toronto, refusing to rule out an eventual return to Major League Soccer.
“When I was there, I enjoyed it,” he said. “I enjoyed going to different places, places I’d never been before.”
He added that he sees the quality of the league improving, claiming that several players on every team he played against with TFC could’ve played in Europe. He praised MLS’s progress since the days of David Beckham earlier this decade.
Defoe also seems to have some regrets about how things turned out in Toronto, where he eventually fell out with MLSE president Tim Leiweke. He suggested he might’ve gone to MLS too early in his career.
“For me going to another league, a new challenge, a club that had massive changes,” he said, “I knew the manager, Toronto is an amazing city and I looked at it and thought, David Beckham went there, Robbie Keane went there, other players.”
Defoe ended up scoring 12 goals in 21 games for TFC before moving on to revive his Premier League career with Sunderland (and now Bournemouth). The 36-year-old has struggled to produce for the Cherries, with just four goals last season and none this year, prompting some transfer speculation around him.
It’s pretty clear that Defoe wouldn’t be coming back to Toronto — frankly, I don’t think he’d receive a very warm welcome from fans — but his continued interest in MLS is good to see.
H/T to our friends @ThruItAllLUFC for noticing this story for us!