Adam Lallana was delighted to share the field with Jermain Defoe as England beat Lithuania 2-0, having watched the Sunderland striker in awe as a youngster.
Defoe marked his return from the international wilderness in style by opening the scoring in Sunday’s World Cup qualifying win at Wembley, with Lallana skilfully teeing up substitute Jamie Vardy to seal the points.
Back in the England setup for the first time since 2013, the 34-year-old Defoe cut a sprightly figure in training according to Liverpool playmaker Lallana, who cheered on the veteran striker during his childhood.
“It still feels like you’re playing with a 25-year-old Jermain Defoe,” Lallana said.
“My dad used to take me to watch Bournemouth play when he famously scored for 10 games in a row, so to be playing with him for England is quite surreal at times.
“But it’s the Jermain Defoe of old that you always know. You bet your bottom dollar he’s going to score a goal and he did to get us on the way.
“I think everyone felt it, that’s Jermain Defoe for you. He deserves it. He’s been playing some of the best football of his career this season, scoring goals.
“He scored goals against Liverpool when we played, he scored two. I think he’s here on merit and he’s proved what he’s about, what he can bring and what an option he is for Russia in a year’s time.”
Two great finishes from two top centre forwards…. fantastic to have a chance to share a pitch with Jermain Defoe this week – been on the receiving end of his quality enough times as an opponent…. nice to able to celebrate as a team-mate today. Back to Liverpool and derby week!
A post shared by Adam Lallana (@officiallallana) on Mar 26, 2017 at 1:22pm PDT
England were short of their best against opponents who played with limited ambition but sit four points clear at the top of Group F after Sunday’s fixtures.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli was one of the Three Lions’ most impressive performers and, like Lallana, he enjoyed lining up alongside a former darling of the White Hart Lane faithful.
“[Defoe] is a fantastic player, he’s a legend in my eyes and for him to come out and get a goal is a big thing for him and a big thing for the team – he’s still out and fighting for a place in the England squad.
“He was one of those players you hear a lot about. You watch him and he scores a lot of goals. I think some people forget how many goals he has scored and what a legend he is.
“For us younger players, to a see a player like that coming back into the team, stepping up and getting the goal is a massive thing for us.”