Toronto FC unveils star signings Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley
Published Monday, January 13, 2014 8:32AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 13, 2014 1:45PM EST
TORONTO -- Toronto FC have unveiled England striker Jermain Defoe and U.S. international midfielder Michael Bradley.
The two new designated player signings represent the underachieving MLS franchise's bid to finally reach respectability and beyond.
The club has yet to make the playoffs in its seven-year history.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke admitted the new players didn't come cheap, but he wasn't making any apologies.
"A lot of people will criticize us for the commitment made, what they think is the amount of money that we've committed here," he said. "But I think a very simple saying we will steal from the Kennedys is appropriate today. Some people see things as they are and say 'why,' others dream of what can be, and they say 'why not.' Today is why not. Why can't wee be great?"
In the MSLE-owned sporting good store across the hall, Defoe No. 18 shirts were displayed prominently. A store worker said the Bradley shirts were in back, awaiting official word of the signing.
At the back of the Air Canada Centre, opposite the Real Sports Bar & Grill where the news conference was held, a double-decker bus was parked. The bus was emblazoned with the Toronto FC logo and the words "It's a Bloody Big Deal."
A vocal contingent of Toronto FC fans took in the announcement, frequently breaking into chants.
"I'd like to say a special thank-you to the fans for that reception," said Defoe, who will continue to play with Tottenham in the English Premier League before joining Toronto for the start of the season.
"When a massive opportunity comes your way, sometimes it's not easy to leave your hometown, leave the club that you've been at for nine years. To come here and have a reception like that is unbelievable, it's such a great feeling I feel at home already."