Celebrating a miss has never been a feature of Jermain Defoe’s adult life. It was, though, for the exceptional goal plunderer last Saturday evening.
The car crash that the Rangers striker then found himself involved in at the Clyde tunnel, only hours after he had netted in the 5-0 drubbing of Aberdeen, is one that left him not simply shaken up. The 36-year-old wasn’t immediately aware how fortunate it was that no-one incurred serious injury when his Range Rover was hit by a BMW that veered into it while it was travelling in the opposite direction. Ultimately, only Defoe’s manly pride took a dent, with his mother Sandra hotfooting it from London to Glasgow to check on her boy.
“The car crash was scary,” said the on-loan Bournemouth forward. “Luckily I was in a big car. It was strange, though, because when it happened there was another car beside me. On the impact, we’d hit another car which I didn’t realise at the time. It wasn’t until later that evening the police told me that another car had been involved.
“There were two women and a little kid in the car and one of them messaged me on Instagram, asking me if I was OK. She told me they were in the car beside me. I thought about it, if I was a little bit further forward and that car had hit the smaller one, it would have been bad. And there was a little kid in there. When you think about it like that, it could have been a lot worse. I was aware pretty straight away that people were concerned about me. I was shocked when I stepped out the car.
“But within minutes, there was a road block and a few people came over. You can imagine, they all had their phones out, which is normal these days. So I knew that, at some point, it would be everywhere. I just didn’t want my mum to find out. Because I knew that I was OK, I was obviously going to tell her later.
“But then I panicked a little bit. Allan McGregor was a few cars in front and came back to get me. He took me and [partner] Nicole home. My only worry was my mum finding out. Because I know what she’s like, she panics.
“She actually jumped on the next flight up, it’s so funny thinking about it now. I phoned her but didn’t know how to tell her. She’s so extreme. So I said: ‘mum I’ve been in a car accident’. And she said: ‘What? Are you sure you’re OK, have you been to the hospital’? I said: ‘mum, I’m fine, I’ve just got a little bit of whiplash’. But she got the next flight out. She’s unbelievable, it was so typical of her. I’ve never been involved in anything like that before and hopefully it’ll never happen again.”
Reaction to the incident offered another indication of the bond that has grown between Defoe and fellow Ibrox striker Alfredo Morelos, the pair having netted 23 goals between them, with the veteran bagging nine goals as effectively plays support striker to the Colombian with a still fragile grasp of English, a role the former Tottenham Hotpsur and West Ham man is likely to have today as Hamilton Accies are hosted by Steven Gerrard’s side.
“I got so many messages, especially from all of the boys, and Buff [Buffalo, the nickname for Morelos] called me, he was at home with his friend. A voice said: ‘Bro, are you OK’? I said: ‘Who’s that’? He said: ‘It’s Alfredo’. Then his friend came on and explained that he just wanted to check I was OK. He gave Alfredo the phone back and he said: ‘OK bro, bye’. I was laughing. But all the lads were great, checking I was alright.”
Defoe, on the pitch, has been more than alright. He points to his satisfaction at having netted six goals in his past six matches and believes his ability to produce at such an advanced age gives him confidence he can continue playing for years to come. His contract with Bournemouth is up in the summer and at that point staying at Ibrox, where he arrived in January, is an option he seems keen to explore.
“I have spoken to the manager and he knows how much I have enjoyed my time here,” said Defoe. “I said to one of my friends recently that I haven’t been here that long really but the appreciation from the fans is something special. You don’t always get that. You get it if you score goals, but I feel like the appreciation in a short space of time.
“I sat down and had a relaxed chat with the gaffer. Even last season when I wasn’t in the team he told me to be patient and keep doing what I was doing. It isn’t just about on the pitch it is off the pitch as well.
“Sometimes the younger players ask me questions and it is always nice to give something back and help the younger guys. Both parts are important but the manager knows I love it here and I know he wants me here.”