Defoe desperate to heal World Cup pain

England striker Jermain Defoe is desperate to erase the bitter memory of missing the 2006 World Cup - but he expects plenty of competition for a ticket to South Africa next year.

The 26-year-old was among the players on standby three summers ago - with Sven-Goran Eriksson famously gambling on Theo Walcott instead - and only returned home from Germany the day before the opening clash against Paraguay.

The fact that senior England players praised his commitment and professionalism was no consolation to the Tottenham marksman at the time.

"It was a massive disappointment for me, I was so close - I actually travelled to Germany and had to come home," he said. "But things happen for a reason and hopefully this time I can play.

"What happened is a massive motivation for me. Sometimes people say disappointment is a blessing. If things go your way all the time in life then you may get complacent.

"You want that fire in your belly and this time I definitely have that fire in my belly because of what happened in 2006. I definitely don't want to go through that again.

"I just want to make sure I am on the plane this time."

Defoe is enjoying his best spell for England after struggling to deliver for Eriksson and Steve McClaren, with his tally under Fabio Capello now at seven from nine appearances.

Granted, five of those were against Trinidad and Tobago, Kazakhstan and Andorra - but this week he scored twice against Holland to earn a draw in Amsterdam.

"This is the best time of my England career, definitely," he said. "I've worked really hard and I've always believed that when you work hard you get results.

"I've worked really hard in the gym and with my running and training at the club so I feel sharp at the minute. I just want to go back to the club now and keep it going and have a good season."

If all his strikers stay fit, Capello will have big decisions to make when England seal qualification to the World Cup.

Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney are his preferred choice and Carlton Cole impressed at the Amsterdam ArenA, with Peter Crouch boasting a fine England goalscoring record and the likes of Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor looking to catch the eye when the season starts.

There is also Michael Owen, who is bound to get chances at Manchester United and is hungry to add to his 40 England goals.

"It's good for the country and fantastic news for Michael that he's at one of the best clubs in the world," Defoe said.

"I'm sure that he'll score a lot of goals there. But I've got to concentrate on myself and I'm playing with a lot of good players at Tottenham, I know I'm going to get goals."

For Defoe, however, there is no sympathy for his rivals. After the cruel build-up to the last World Cup, he just wants to be on the plane to South Africa and is happy to come off the bench like he did this week.

"I've always said I just want to keep myself in the frame and if it means coming on and trying to make an impact then I'll do that," he said.

"Everyone wants to start games and everyone's doing their part - the lads that came on, the manager's showed faith in a lot of the boys.

"My goals to game ratio definitely gives me a lot of confidence. When you're scoring it's fantastic and that brings confidence."

Skipper John Terry noticed that Defoe returned to international duty looking sharp after the summer break.

"In training before the game we did finishing and, honestly, he was unbelievable," Terry said. "He is one of the best natural finishers I've come across. He's so sharp in and around the box.

"It must have been very disappointing for him personally to miss the last World Cup and he has another chance now with the campaign coming up."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk