Jermain Defoe played a starring role for Tottenham in the Europa League against Tromso and, here, he gives Sky Sports an exclusive insight into the art of one-on-one goalscoring
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsPeteF
Last Updated: 21/04/14 12:56pm
Are great goalscorers born or made? Inevitably, all the best have an innate ability to find the back of the net. But this is also only honed by hard work on the training ground.
Tottenham Hotspur's Jermain Defoe has proved his skill over many years in the Premier League and he sits proudly among the division's top eight goalscorers since August 2008 alongside the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard.
The former West Ham United and Portsmouth star has also demonstrated his gifts in more than 50 caps for England at international level, including goals at the 2010 World Cup and the hat-trick against Bulgaria in Euro 2012 qualifying.
It is Defoe's ability to hit the target and take chances in a split second which has become a trademark and it is only Darren Bent, Lampard and Carlos Tevez who boast a better shooting accuracy among the Premier League's top scorers over the past five years.
|Player||Games (Since Aug 2008)||Goals||Chances Created (inc. assists)||Shooting Accuracy|
|Robin van Persie||149||97||307||51.9|
Defoe is known for being especially lethal in the high pressure one-on-one situation with goalkeepers when it comes down to a direct battle between two players and their existing skill, mentality and training.
And ahead of Tottenham's Europa League game with Tromso at White Hart Lane on Thursday night, having been out of favour in the Premier League, Defoe will be hoping to start and showcase those skills, with his ability coming from a mix of natural talent and training.
Defoe, who scored twice in the Europa League play-off second leg against Dinamo Tbilisi, told Sky Sports of one-on-one situations: "I just think, 'goal'. I just think, 'this is it'. When I am training, I always try to do things at match tempo. That has helped me over the years. If I am doing a finishing practice, I go through the motions - do it slow or do it sharp - how I would in a game.
"When you practice every day, you get yourself in situations in training that - when match-day comes and you get into that situation - it is just instinct. You will know what to do.
"You need the confidence that when you get that chance, you will take it. You must concentrate on the strike and just believe you are going to score. And if it does not go in, then you say to yourself, 'the next one will go in'. It is about just having that hunger and belief that you are going to do well and you are going to stay calm.
"I remember Thierry Henry saying that with everything outside the box you have to be really explosive to get yourself in the right positions. Then, when you are one-on-one, you have just got to go cool, stay composed and take your time. Then you can go mad again when you score!"
Defoe, though, can of course not take the chances when one-on-one with the goalkeeper if he is not supplied with the correct service. His relationship and communication with his fellow Tottenham squad members is therefore essential.
Between himself and his team-mates, Defoe attempts to build an understanding in his movements by explaining what he plans to do against specific opponents - whether that will be dropping deep or running long - and then he will hope for the perfect pass.
"I speak to a lot of the boys before games," Defoe revealed. "For instance, I speak to Michael Dawson. In the warm-up, I will tell him what I am going to do in the match. I will say I am going to try a certain type of run against a certain defender and we will just try and see if we can get in. There are times it has come off.
"I will also speak to one of the midfielders. I will say I will play on the shoulder and if I come short and exaggerate the movement, then I am going to go long."
Defoe is clearly not a great goalscorer by chance and has spent hours working on his finishing technique, mentality and understanding with team-mates. He will hope to do more of the same against Tromso on Thursday night.