Premier League '100 Club' member and former Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermaine Defoe has credited Football Sports Development Limited's (FSDL) partnership with the English top division in helping young Indians engage with football internationally and aspire to take up the sport.

He has also urged the players participating to seize the opportunity and enjoy every bit of it.

“I would have loved it because when you're football mad like I was, it's such a great experience and I'm sure they'll embrace every moment. It's a unique experience especially with facilities now." Defoe said on being asked if a tournament like the Next Gen Cup would have aided his career as a kid.

"So, you've just got to enjoy every moment, not wasting a training session because it becomes tough, but it's the best thing in the world.," the former England international added.

Defoe felt turning professional is the ultimate dream for any footballer and advised young players participating in the Next Generation Cup, 2022 to not put too much pressure on themselves.

"It's tough, it's not easy but you just got to enjoy it. Nothing changes. I think you've just got to be single-minded, you have to be confident," Defoe, who is the Premier League's all-time ninth-highest goalscorer with 162 strikes, said.

The Next Generation Cup is part of the longstanding partnership between Premier League and FSDL to support the development of football in India. Through the partnership, which began eight years ago, the two bodies have continued to work together to share knowledge and expertise in all areas of the game including governance, talent development, commercial growth, administration, and wider community development.

The former Sunderland forward felt the Next Gen Cup could open a host of possibilities for these young footballers who could play in Europe in the future.

“What an opportunity to become professionals and fulfil your dreams. You never know this can take you. Some of these players might even end up in Europe and play in the Premier League, so you never know. So you just enjoy it. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, just enjoy every moment and try to improve every day,” the former West Ham United academy graduate concluded.