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Jermain Defoe reveals how Steven Gerrard played ‘clever mind games’ at Rangers

Jermain Defoe has revealed how Steven Gerrard’s ‘smart’ management got the best out of him at Rangers – and tipped his former England team-mate to reach the top.

The striker signed for Rangers in January 2019, initially on a rental basis, before joining the Ibrox club permanently in the summer of 2020.

He scored 32 goals in 74 appearances and helped the club to their first Scottish Premiership title in ten years last season.

Jermain Defoe has revealed how 'clever' Steven Gerrard got the best of him at Rangers

Jermain Defoe has revealed how ‘clever’ Steven Gerrard got the best of him at Rangers

Defoe and Gerrard take home the Scottish Premiership trophy after Rangers' title win last season

Defoe and Gerrard take home the Scottish Premiership trophy after Rangers’ title win last season

Gerrard was the man in charge from Defoe’s arrival until his departure to take the job at Aston Villa in November and the 39-year-old was impressed with how the former England captain got the best of him.

“It was really just trust. Even a few times, when you knocked, he said, ‘I don’t have to see you until Friday’ and that was it,” Defoe told the Rio Ferdinand presents FIVE YouTube show.

“He knew I would do everything right. “See you Friday, get ready for the game.”

“It’s funny because sometimes, if I hadn’t played, he could see I was crazy, he’d call me in and say, ‘Get ready, you’re playing the next game.’

“Even if the attackers had scored, he’d say get ready for the next game.”

“He knew how to deal with me. He’d say things to me and I’d think “you’re trying to get a response.”

Defoe spoke about Gerrard's methods on the Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube show

Defoe spoke about Gerrard’s methods on the Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube show

Defoe and Gerrard played side by side for England several times

Defoe and Gerrard played side by side for England several times

“Sometimes he would pull me in and be smart. Say Alfredo Morelos was playing and scoring two goals, he would pull me in and say, “You play the next game.”

“But I would think, ‘He just scored two goals, what do you think?’ But that was busy then, I have to score two goals or at least we have to win.

“He was so smart the way he did things. Sometimes when you’re not playing, say the game is on and one of the attackers has scored, I’d warm up and as soon as they scored, he’d say, “You’re coming off, you’re going on.”

“All he said to me was ‘numbers, just get your target numbers’. He didn’t make anything complicated, it was just numbers, goals, goals, goals.’

Asked if he thought Gerrard could become a top manager, Defoe added: I think he can because he’s there and he knows what to say to players

Everything is just standards, every day in training is standards, the best version of you.

Defoe scored 32 goals in 74 appearances for Rangers between January 2019 and this year

Defoe scored 32 goals in 74 appearances for Rangers between January 2019 and this year

“He puts a lot of pressure on the attackers, the best version of you, you and you and if you bring that, we’ll get the job done.”

Gerrard, just two years older than Defoe at age 41, was more than happy to allow senior players at Rangers to guard the locker room.

Defoe said, “It’s different from when I started because now you have leadership groups.

“You get a group of the older guys getting together and if there’s a problem we have a meeting with the manager and he’d tell us to sort it out.

“So we basically check the locker room. We’ve done that a lot to be honest.

Defoe has revealed Gerrard knew how to get the best out of him at Rangers

Defoe has revealed Gerrard knew how to get the best out of him at Rangers

“When you’re the manager, you have so many things to think about. You have the manager, the coaches, the medical department, the sports science, the doctor.

“Don’t step on anyone’s toes and the manager can focus on managing and let the seniors control the locker room – and that’s how he was.”

Defoe left Rangers in January to return emotionally to Sunderland, but he announced his retirement from football last month after just seven appearances for the League One club.

Gerrard’s Villa is 11th in the Premier League but has suffered a slump in form, having lost their last three games.

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