England striker Jermaine Defoe goes home due to father’s death

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Yesterday, Jermaine Defoe was a world class athlete, consumed by media, about to participate in perhaps the second most-watched soccer tournament in the world, the European Championships.

Today, he’s just one of us, a man struggling with one of life’s toughest blows, losing a parent.

Defoe has returned to England after the death of his father.

England’s FA issued the following statement early Tuesday: “England striker Jermain Defoe has returned home to England this morning following the passing of his father overnight. Jermain will re-join the England Euro squad in due course. There will be no replacement player called in. We would ask all media to respect Jermain and his family’s privacy at this difficult time.”

Obviously, soccer matters fade into the background, but there is an effect on England, which opens play Monday against France. Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two matches. So the choices at striker for manager Roy Hodgson (if Defoe is not available) are limited to Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll, with Ashley Young likely to play a withdrawn role behind them.