When Sunday’s team sheet against Livingston was released there were a few doubters amongst the Rangers support raising an eyebrow about the inclusion of Jermain Defoe.
After all the veteran striker, 38, has scarcely been seen since an early-season injury and the likes of Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe are hungry for minutes behind the out-of-sorts Alfredo Morelos.
But within 15 minutes Steven Gerrard’s decision was more than justified as Defoe rolled back the years to roll in a sublime first-time finish past a stranded Max Stryjek in the Lions goal.
It was a goal befitting the title of his 300th in club football.
In doing so Defoe didn’t just prove that he still has all the composure and poise of an elite striker 15 years his junior – but also that he can still play a massive role in this behemoth of a title tussle.
Defoe’s value to Rangers isn’t just on the pitch of course, his years of expertise and experience at top-level English football invaluable to our younger players who actively look up to the striker.
But on the pitch we still have a lethal player who looks as fit as he did 10 years ago, if not a little less mobile.
In the vein of those players with legendary longevity of the past, Defoe is remodelling himself to suit his physical capabilities with that mental sharpness still providing a razor’s edge in the final third.
Defoe now decides when to make the movement, his experience and instinct guiding him, he looks to turn and shoot or get rid of the ball quickly when he does get it, he’s diminutive, strong, and the kind of player who is a nightmare to mark.
Most importantly, Jermain Defoe is still ice-cold in front of goal.
The ex-Spurs, West Ham and Pompey man isn’t going to play every week, but when he does, he can be relied on to score.
Those 10-15 goals could be huge for Rangers this season and reaching that target really isn’t about whether or not Defoe can find the back of the net, it’s about whether or not he plays.
In a season were Rangers hope to make a real impression in Europe, challenge on three domestic fronts and also have to balance injury and Covid-19, what an invaluable player to have around Ibrox.
His entire career – particularly in the latter stages – Jermain Defoe has always had his doubters.Even at the weekend some of those might have come from within the Rangers support.
But as he always has the age-defying striker can continue to prove all of them wrong and play a vital role in securing a legendary 55th title for Rangers.