Jermain Defoe has revealed a pep talk with Tottenham coach Les Ferdinand was the inspiration behind him scoring his 100th top-flight goal.
After going in 1-1 at the break against West Brom, Defoe looked to have earned Spurs the win they needed to move into fourth when he dispatched a 20-yard shot that beat Scott Carson.
The goal was also the 28-year-old’s 100th goal for Spurs but his party was spoiled by the best strike of the game – a delightful lob from West Brom substitute Simon Cox that earned the Baggies a point, leaving Harry Redknapp’s men a point behind Manchester City, who play their game in hand against Blackburn tomorrow.
Defoe is currently enduring his worst season at White Hart Lane. He has found the net eight times and only three of those strikes have come in the Premier League. He had been stuck on 99 since the start of March and had sought the advice of Ferdinand – a man who racked up 149 goals during a 20-year professional career before taking on the role of Spurs strikers’ coach in 2008.
"I sat down with Les and had a little chat with him. He knows me well," Defoe explained. "He said he’d been through bad patches in his career before and sometimes if you want something bad it never comes. He said to me: ‘Just keep going, play the game, try not to think about it and it will come. Just be Jermain Defoe’."
Defoe is no stranger to breaking records as he became the first post-war player to score in 10 successive league matches when he was on loan at Bournemouth while on West Ham’s books as an 18-year-old.
Yesterday’s strike meant that Defoe entered an esteemed 20-strong group of players who have passed the 100 Premier League goal mark.
Ferdinand is the fifth highest scorer on the list with 149 goals, and Defoe now has his tally in his sights.
"I want to try and beat Les. I am 28 now and I still feel fit and sharp so you never know," Defoe added.
"He thinks I can do it. He said to me: ‘You’ll smash it’.
"It was a relief to get to 100. It has been on my mind a lot to be honest. I wanted to do it in the West Ham game, I had a t-shirt printed and ready to go but I missed a couple of chances.
"Now the shirt’s in the boot. There wasn’t any point in having it. You get booked if you take your shirt off now."
Despite his joy, Defoe admits that he would gladly swap all the accolades that came with the strike for three points.
Defoe was only used sparingly during Spurs’ Champions League campaign this year but is desperate for the team to pip City to fourth place so he can play among Europe’s elite next year.
"It was good today but to get the three points today would have been better," he added.
"When you look at the quality of the dressing room and even the players who weren’t involved today, whether they were on the bench or in the stand, they are top quality players.
"We are good enough to play in the Champions League, as we have shown this season, so it would be a massive blow if we don’t qualify again."