Rangers star Jermain Defoe has provided an intriguing update on his current role at Ibrox during a RangersTV interview.
Defoe played a bit-part role for his former England teammate Steven Gerrard last season, playing just 627 minutes of football but still scoring seven goals and notching two assists from his 20 appearances.
The 38-year-old’s previous contract was up at the end of the season but trophy day came and went without confirmation of an extension and English clubs were linked with interest in snapping him up on a free.
However, on 8th June, it was finally announced that he would be remaining at Ibrox in a new dual player/coach role.
Many assumed that would mean even fewer minutes for Defoe across 2021/22 but he’s played a very active role in pre-season so far, starting the opening two fixtures, and he’s explained that the other part of his role hasn’t really kicked in yet.
“So far it has been more as a player, focusing on pre-season and making sure I get a good pre-season and I am fit and ready to go,” he said [Rangers.co.uk]. “In-terms of the coaching side of it, at some point, I will get introduced, the manager has said, and maybe have the red kit on!”
“I am really looking forward to it. It’s something we spoke about over the summer, myself, the manager, the staff and Ross [Wilson], and when the opportunity came to me, it was an easy decision. To do something like this at a club like this is so special.
“I have started my badges which I will hopefully finish soon, and getting this experience learning from the manager, Mick, Gary and all of the staff involved, and dipping in and out of sessions hopefully – probably more on the finishing side of it I would imagine.”
Defoe then went on to make it clear that he also wants to work with the club’s Academy players, something he started doing during his time at Sunderland, but was made impossible last year by Covid precautions.
Many assumed that the introduction of Jermain Defoe the coach would come during the first week of pre-season, so it’s interesting to hear him speak about Gerrard’s plan to gradually introduce that side of his role.
It makes sense to focus on playing initially, though, as unless the former England international gets a proper pre-season under his belt – especially at his age – it would take him a while to catch up with the rest of the group.
With Alfredo Morelos and Fashion Sakala missing out on the early stages of 2021/22 prep, the chances of Defoe being required at the beginning of the season are substantially higher than they may be towards the middle of it, too, and he’ll be much better off for his runouts against Partick Thistle and Tranmere.