Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe said Thursday he was prepared to change his football boots for some very different footwear in order to take part in the BBC’s hit television show Strictly Come Dancing.
The 34-year-old England international is trying for the time being to help northeast side Sunderland avoid relegation from the Premier League, although this looks an increasingly forlorn task with the Black Cats 10 points adrift of safety and only eight games left.
Defoe could leave Sunderland if they drop down to the second-tier Championship and appearing on an early-morning chat show on Britain’s ITV, the BBC’s main terrestrial rival, was asked if he would be willing to take part in Strictly, a celebrity dance competition.
“I did an interview not too long ago and they asked me the question and I was like: ‘yeah why not!’, Defoe said.
“I’ve always enjoyed dancing, I come from a West Indian background so you never know. So if they want me, give me a call.”
Several footballers, including former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and ex-England forward John Barnes have appeared on the programme with varying degrees of success.
However, former England cricketers Darren Gough and Mark Ramprakash won the competition in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Defoe has become well-known this season for his friendship with terminally ill five-year-old Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery, who has appeared as a mascot at some of the club’s games during the season.
Lowery has a rare form of cancer and Defoe said: “He was buzzing round the changing rooms and when he saw me he just ran over to me, just jumped on my lap.
“I mean from that instant moment the bond started there and he is an amazing child.
“People talk about obviously what I bring to his life but I can honestly say he has changed me as a person you know, going to visit him in hospital.”
As for Lowery’s current condition, Defoe added: “We saw him last week, me and my girlfriend, and to be honest he wasn’t too well and he hasn’t really been eating which is a worry but I mean apart from that, like you said, he’s a fighter.
“He’s fighting every day. We took him some toys and some sweets, which was nice, but day by day hopefully he’ll get better, you know, all you can do is pray.”