Beth Mead reveals she used to share striker tips with Jermain Defoe over breakfast while the pair were both at Sunderland

Beth Mead Sunderland Jermain Defoe
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Beth Mead revealed to FourFourTwo that she and Jermain Defoe used to regularly talk about striker tips when the pair was at Sunderland together, with the men's and women's team sharing a canteen at the training ground.

Mead played for Sunderland between 2011 and 2016, helping the club gain promotion to the Women's Super League for the 2015 season. She turned professional with this promotion, while Defoe joined the north-east outfit in January 2015.

Speaking fondly about the relationship the pair had to FourFourTwo in the latest issue available to buy, Mead explains how their conversations came about and what they entailed. 

“Jermain Defoe was amazing with me,” Mead said with a smile as she looks back at her meeting of minds with the ex-England hitman. 

“We were lucky to share breakfast and lunch in the same canteen as the men’s team, which was very nice – it’s something Sunderland got right from day one. 

“He literally waited for me every morning. He heard about me being this great striker, so he wanted to know everything about me because he wasn’t the only great striker at Sunderland at the time. We got on really well, talking about football every morning while he had a green tea."

In the same season Defoe joined Sunderland, Mead became the youngest WSL golden boot winner in 2015, scoring 12 goals in 14 appearances at just 20-years-old. She was flying in her first season as a professional footballer, leading to Defoe asking her questions for tips he could implement in his own game.

“He had watched a few of my goals and said, ‘I’ve never scored one like that before – what were you thinking when you did that?’ I would always explain, but he understood that strikers have to be quite instinctive in things you do.

“We’re quite similar characters in a sense – we’re quite outgoing and extroverted. We bounced off each other. We stay in touch to this day, and he’s always supported me and shared his experience to help me with what I’m doing in my career.”

Mead has gone from strength to strength since joining Arsenal in 2017, coming second in the Ballon d'Or Feminin earlier this year after leading England to Euro 2022 glory due to her six goals - making her the tournament's golden boot winner

Defoe, meanwhile, is working at Tottenham as a club ambassador and academy coach, retiring in March 2022 after re-signing for Sunderland. 

Beth Mead's new book Lioness: My Journey to Glory (opens in new tab) is out now and available to order. 

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.