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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Jun 24, 2014

Jermain Defoe 'never shirked England'

England coach Roy Hodgson announces his starting lineup for tomorrow's match against Costa Rica.

Jermain Defoe insists he has never tried to dodge international duty when he has received an England call-up, with his comments coming after former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp claimed some players did so during his time at Spurs.

Redknapp told the BBC on Sunday that there were "two or three players who did not want to play for England during his four years in charge at White Hart Lane." 

That revelation led to England captain Steven Gerrard saying he would like to know the names of those players -- something Redknapp has said he is not prepared to do.

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Defoe was one of 12 Tottenham players called up to England squads during Redknapp's tenure, which ended in 2012, along with Darren Bent, David Bentley, Peter Crouch, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Scott Parker, Kyle Walker and Jonathan Woodgate.

The 31-year-old, who was brought back to Tottenham by Redknapp in 2009 having worked under him at West Ham and Portsmouth, said he had never tried to skip an international call.

"I've always been available for England and not once pulled out of a squad when I'm not injured," Defoe, now at MLS side Toronto FC, told The Sun. "Playing for my country has been the pinnacle of my career." 

Defoe scored 124 Premier League goals in his career before signing for Toronto earlier this year.

Defoe was part of England's World Cup squad in 2010 and scored the winner in the 1-0 victory against Slovenia that secured their place in the round of 16 in South Africa.

Despite leaving the Premier League in March, the striker said he was heartbroken to find out that he would not be in the 23-man party to travel to Brazil. But he added that he had not given up hope of adding to his tally of 19 goals in 55 international caps in future.

"When Roy Hodgson rang me to say I was not in the squad this summer, it was the most devastating news I'd ever received," he said. "It was the biggest low of my career. 

"It still hurts me now. It's difficult to watch the games knowing I could have been out there.

"I still want to play for my country -- because all I have ever done is score goals and, if called upon, I will be on a plane to play for England."

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