JERMAIN Defoe reckons he is as sharp as he’s felt in years as he vows to help Rangers progress in this season’s UEFA Europa League.
The 36-year-old scored his first European goals for Rangers last week against St Joseph’s and believes his bright start to the new campaign is down to his pre-season work.
Defoe netted 13 times in Europe for Spurs and told the media today one of the reasons he chose to join the Gers was to experience European football once again.
He said: “For me personally it was nice to be back in Europe. I think the last time I played in Europe was when I was at Tottenham and I enjoyed it.
“Getting a full pre-season was something I was looking forward to, not getting any injuries and putting that work in to hopefully start the season really strong.
“I feel fit, I feel sharp, probably as sharp as I have felt for a long time, which is good for me. Once you have a good pre-season and get the work in then mentally going into the season it helps.
“As a forward, trying to nick a few goals in pre-season, then it helps your confidence and you take that into each game.
“I have never been one to think about age, I have always been one to look after myself since day one, not just now.
“I have always tried to tick every box, I want to stay out on the pitch and at times the manager will want to manage me but I never want to miss a training session.
“Pre-season I maybe missed one session and that was in the afternoon, apart from that I have been out on the pitch and doing my stuff in the gym.
“Maybe when I was younger I used to run channels more but the way we are playing now suits me. As you get older you probably become more intelligent.
“I have always worked on my movement in and around the box, I probably concentrate on that a lot more than I used to – getting on the end of crosses and one touch finishing and stuff like that.
“When you are younger you can drop in and get deep and maybe receive the ball and drive past people. I would like to think I still do things I did a few years back.”
Defoe wasn’t at the club in 2017 when Rangers were knocked out of the Europa League at the first stage by Thursday’s opponents Progrès Niederkorn but he says those players who were have briefed the current squad well on the situation.
He continued: “I am sure we owe them one. It was disappointing speaking to the boys to get knocked out but we need to approach it like any other game, you can’t think about what happened last time.
“Even though we like to think we want put one over on them, at the same time we need to approach it like any other game, we are at home and hopefully we win the game.
“It is only natural to want to put it right when you have been disappointed and lost a game like that, we wanted the opportunity to put things right and now that has come our way again.
“I think it would be special for everyone involved with this football club (to qualify for the group stages again).
“It is a massive football club with amazing fans and we have a strong squad now, there is a lot of quality there. If we can progress then it would be great for everyone.”