Jermain Defoe targeting 2018 World Cup after dream England recall
Last Updated: 21/03/17 5:02pm
Jermain Defoe has his heart set on the 2018 World Cup after his dream of an England recall was realised.
Defoe, 34, last played for his country in 2013 but was last week named in Gareth Southgate's squad for the upcoming games against Germany and Lithuania.
And the Sunderland striker is already targeting a third major finals appearance in 15 months' time having missed out on the World Cup in 2014 and last summer's European Championship.
He said: "There were times where I did think 'maybe I'm not going to get in', and I came out and said it, but it didn't stop me getting my head down, working hard and hoping one day I'd get an opportunity to represent my country again.
"I was getting a lot of stick from the lads at the training ground saying 'why have you still got the England flag on your boots?' I was just hoping one day I'd get an opportunity and it's come, so I'm delighted.
"I've always known how important it is to play for England from day one. When you've had that experience of going to major tournaments, it's something that you just crave.
"Just going to a major tournament, travelling, getting to the hotels, playing the games - it's something you've always wanted to do from being a kid, growing up watching the great players over the years. Playing in the major tournaments, going out and emulating the players you've seen on TV.
"Being lucky enough to have experienced it, you just want it more and more. So for me, if I do get an opportunity to go to another major tournament, it'd be a dream."
Defoe was overlooked for the 2014 World Cup having joined Major League Soccer side Toronto, and he knows his chances of going to Russia next year will diminish if Sunderland are no longer in the Premier League.
"You have to be realistic," he said. "To get into any squad is on merit and you've got to be playing at the top level, it's as simple as that.
"When I went to Toronto I missed out. When I got the phone call it was hard news to accept, but at the same time you have to be realistic and the boys I was competing against were playing in the Premier League and Europe.
"I'd say I probably need to be playing in the Premier League, but we'll see what happens."
England play Germany in a Dortmund friendly on Wednesday before hosting Lithuania in a World Cup Qualifier four days later.