Jermain Defoe says Harry’s an inspiration

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe believes Harry Redknapp’s presence is the reason Tottenham are in with a chance in the title race.

Third-placed Spurs face more scrutiny than ever as boss Redknapp remains the firm favourite to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager.

And Defoe, who has been a regular feature in Redknapp’s teams with the duo combining at West Ham and Portsmouth before joining forces at Spurs, believes the secret to the club’s success lies in the dressing room.

Having worked under Redknapp for seven years, Defoe understands his manager’s character and the inspiration his methods bring.

“Some people just have a presence, an aura about them that inspires you to perform.”

“That’s what Harry has. He is one of those managers that wants you to express yourself. To enjoy the game, work hard for the team, stick together and win football matches. It’s as simple as that.

“He always seems to get the best out of his players. Whether it is players coming to the end of their career who come to the club and kick on to another level, or young players who step up.

“It’s that presence he has. When you play for him, you know that you have to give him 100 per cent. He always stresses how important it is to realise how important we are in life.”

After being given his break by Redknapp at the Hammers academy in 1999 at the age of 16, Defoe still remembers the confidence he was given as a youngster and has hailed Redknapp’s faith in using talented players regardless of their age.

“He tells us, ‘You are in a fantastic position in your life. You are doing something you love.’ And yes, we are living the dream,” he added. “He is a top manager.”

“I remember when I was at West Ham and the confidence he gave me. No matter how good a player you are, when you have a manager who gives you confidence it makes so much of a difference.

“When I was just 16, I’d be training with the youth team and every day he would call me over and tell me I was training with the first team.

“But Harry likes to give young kids an opportunity to do well. He is one of those managers where it doesn’t matter how young you are. If you are good enough you are playing.”