Jermain Defoe has hailed the influence of Andre Villas-Boas in reviving his career at Tottenham.
Defoe’s future at White Hart Lane had been in doubt after he spent most of last season on the bench under Harry Redknapp, but Villas-Boas managed to persuade the striker to stay.
The 35-year-old has shown supreme faith in Defoe, starting the striker in all but one of Tottenham’s Barclays Premier League games, and the move has paid off, with Defoe scoring 10 goals in all competitions so far.
The former West Ham man has looked as deadly as ever for Spurs this term and his new-found confidence has enabled him to break back in to the England team.
Defoe has been amazed by the level of detail Villas-Boas puts in to his preparations and thinks his improvement has been largely down to the arrival of Spurs’ new manager.
“He’s a great manager, one of the best,” Defoe said at The Prince’s Trust Sport Youth Forum yesterday.
“He is a great manager, he has great ideas. Training is always good. It always has a purpose. There is always a different approach to every game and you can tell that he studies every team we play.
“In pre-season he said to me ’I want you to stay at the club. I want you to sign a new contract. And I want you to score goals for me’ so it’s good.
“Even away from football he is a nice guy. An honest guy. All the players have said it.”
Defoe’s love for Villas-Boas is certainly not unrequited. The Portuguese this week claimed Defoe is so good that he is on a par with £50million rated hitman Radamel Falcao, with whom Villas-Boas worked at FC Porto.
“That’s such a nice thing for a manager to say because it does give you confidence,” Defoe added.
“When a manager says that about you, you just want to do well for him and achieve something special.”
Should Spurs beat Fulham and other results go their way, they could be joint third in the Premier League by tomorrow night.
The 35-year-old’s reign has not been all plain sailing, however. His team were booed off against West Brom and Norwich after they failed to win in their first three matches and Villas-Boas was jeered when he brought Defoe off for Emmanuel Adebayor against Wigan.
Having lasted less than nine months in charge of Chelsea, many had started to doubt whether Villas-Boas was cut out for Premier League management, but Defoe has no doubts about his manager’s desire to succeed.
“When he came in people were asking questions because of what happened at Chelsea but that’s only normal,” Defoe said.
“It’s part and parcel of being a manager.
“When people doubt you I think that’s a good thing.
“Then you think ’oh yeah, I will prove you wrong’.
“He is at Tottenham now. The lads love him and I think we will have a good season.”
Defoe’s hat-trick against Maribor three weeks ago moved him above Teddy Sheringham in to eighth in Tottenham’s all-time top scorer list.
When asked whether he thought he could beat his record of scoring 24 goals in one season – a feat that would put him fifth in the all-time list – he said: “Yes. I have always wanted to get 10 before Christmas and this year I have because I have been playing games.”
Defoe, a West Ham player for five years, returned to Upton Park yesterday to attend The Prince’s Trust Sport Youth Forum – an event in which he was grilled by youngsters involved in the charity, which helps disadvantaged young people try to get back to work.
“Creating opportunities for young people is so important at the moment,” said Defoe, who is an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust.
“These youngsters are all making steps to change their lives – it is very inspiring. I had a great time hearing from the young people and I hope that I offered them all some advice which will help them on their journeys.”