Toronto FC finalize deal for Defoe

Toronto, ON ( - Toronto FC announced on Friday the club has completed a deal to sign England international Jermain Defoe from Premier League side Tottenham-Hotspur.

Defoe will occupy a Designated Player roster spot for Toronto and remain with Tottenham until February 28 before joining Toronto FC ahead of the start of the 2014 Major League Soccer season.

"We are thrilled, for our club and for our fans, with the opportunity to bring a global football superstar like Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC," said Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke. "We promised our fans in October that building a winning club was our top priority and we scoured the globe to find the right players to fulfill that promise.

"Right from the beginning of this process, Jermain Defoe was the top player on our list and we got our man. We would like to thank Tottenham as well as MLSE ownership for this very clear demonstration of our commitment to winning. Most importantly, we want to thank Toronto FC fans for their patience and support getting to this day."

Defoe, 31, is currently in his 16th season as a professional football player, and 11th with Tottenham. He has made a combined 362 appearances for Tottenham, scoring 142 goals across the English Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Europa League matches.

Defoe began his junior career at Charlton Athletic before moving to West Ham and turning pro at 16 years of age. He won the Premier Academy League title in the 1999-00 season with West Ham; and went on to make his first team debut in September 2000.

"Jermain brings the complete package to Toronto FC," said Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "He is an accomplished scorer and I know that his skill and infectious personality will make him a popular star both in Toronto and around the league."

He has earned 55 caps for the England national team and scored 19 goals. He made his first appearance for the Three Lions in March 2004 as a substitute against Sweden and scored his first international goal in a World Cup qualifier against Poland on September 8, 2004.