Healthy living Jermain Defoe determined to earn England World Cup 2018 spot

Defoe’s love for the game is as strong as ever as he looks back on the sacrifices he’s made to stay at the peak of his superb condition.

He’s never drank alcohol and as a non-smoker he’s never puffed on one of those shisha pipes unlike a few of his England counterparts.

And his only vice is…..bubble gum with regular supplies delivered to his south coast mansion from his favourite sweet shop back at his old haunt of Sunderland.

Defoe isn’t advocating being a goody two shoes and doesn’t condemn anyone for downing a couple of pints or lighting up a ciggie. Far from it.

Abstinence is his chosen path with mum Sandra playing a huge part in his sober upbringing by constantly reminding him of the life he must lead to reach the top – and stay there.

There can’t be a better way to track his journey from starry-eyed kid to an England legend than to highlight a defining moment in his young life.

Defoe said: “As a young kid my mum used to say a lot of things to me. That discipline at the time I didn’t really appreciate. I remember being in my bedroom window – we used to live on an estate – and my mates used to be there. Smoking, drinking, talking to girls.

“As a young lad, of course you want to be involved but she always used to say: ‘If you’re telling me you want to become a professional footballer, like you’ve been telling me since you were two and started talking, then you have to do everything right’.

“It’s sacrifices. She was like that from day one. It’s just in there. There are times when I’m tough on myself. I go to a restaurant and think: ‘That chocolate brownie looks nice on the menu’. And I’m like ‘No’.

“I know all the sacrifices over the years and you get to this level because of that. I try to be vegan but I love fish. It’s a difficult one. Everyone knows I don’t drink alcohol.

“I’ve never drunk really through my whole career. That’s probably why I’m still playing to be honest. I’m still human. I’m not saying I’m an angel or footballers shouldn’t drink.

“I’ve worked hard. I’ve ticked every box in terms of what I can do to get myself fitter every season. It’s clean living. You eat the right things and you listen to people at the club.

“But I don’t judge anyone. Do you know what I love? Bubble gum. When I was at Sunderland there was this sweet shop. There was bubble gum. As soon as I walked in they’d go in the back and get a box.

“I still get them delivered to my house and even then it’s probably mainly after the game. But apart from that I try my best to be disciplined.”

So how long can the Defoe longevity last after a 19-year career which has taken him from West Ham to Tottenham (three times), Portsmouth, Toronto, Sunderland and now Bournemouth?

Defoe added: “If I feel the same at 37 then why not? I was 35 on Saturday and all of a sudden someone is thinking: ‘You shouldn’t be playing for England or you shouldn’t be playing in the Premier League at that age because of how intense it is’.

“If I’m still running down the channels like I’m 25 then for me, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not left me. It’s always been inside me. When I meet up with the England squad I get that same buzz. I don’t think it will ever go…….”