Southgate: Sunderland's Defoe has been great for England youngsters

The 34-year-old Defoe, who was accompanied onto the pitch by terminally ill five-year-old mascot Bradley Lowery, netted his first England goal since March 2013 in the 21st minute at Wembley Stadium.

But since he returned, the goals have flowed; four at the tail-end of the 2014-15 season when he first came back, 18 last season, 14 so far this.

"I am not going to eulogise over the performance", he said.

"We like to win the ball up high and press, and get the ball down and play football and be patient as well so it is a fantastic time".

"My girlfriend said I have to do it". Obviously we knew about him but you're never sure how he'll cope.

"So I am very proud of my team because they worked extremely hard".

"I still think about it". I still feel the sharpness.

After gently ushering the game towards the interval England nearly conceded in the messiest of ways in added time. You can imagine how I felt doing that, having done it with my club as well, it was special. She said to me, 'You've got to do it, ' and she's always showing me these documentaries and that.

"I do a lot of cryotherapy. It keeps the fire in my belly because I love playing for my country".

Spurs supporters were quick to applaud their defender after his England display and one fan suggested he was the best right-back in the world. "If he's scoring and playing as well as he has done this season there is no reason why he couldn't be [in the World Cup]".

He added: "I don't find anything hard because I know the feeling of scoring goals".

And he believes he and his contemporaries, like 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, are written off too soon these days.

It was an emotional one to begin with as the striker lead youngster Bradley Lowrey onto the hallowed turf, but when the game kicked-off Defoe got down to the business.

The striker made his long-awaited return to the global set-up, with Defoe making his first appearance since 2013 having impressed all season with the struggling Black Cats with 14 league goals so far in the current campaign.

But after Southgate's recall, almost four years after his last cap, he has his sights now set on Russian Federation 2018.

Judging by England's last two games under new stewardship, Gareth Southgate have got the Three Lions squads clogs well-oiled for the first time in a long while. Saving Sunderland from relegation would be a start and there's still the possibility of making an impact at the World Cup next year.

"It's what he does, I don't think anyone would ever question that about Jermain", he added. "He was thrilled to be back involved in the squad and he has enjoyed his week immensely". As players you appreciate that.

  • Julie Sanders