Judging by the boos from the crowd Wednesday night, he also has some enemies among the fans at BMO Field after one season with Toronto FC last year that was shortened by injury.
He put on quite a show for friends and foes alike, scoring two goals in the second half as Sunderland defeated Toronto FC 2-1 in an exhibition match.
"It was nice to come and obviously win the game," Defoe said. "It was nice to see a lot of faces I recognize. It was a bit strange but I enjoyed it."
Jonathan Osorio gave the Major League Soccer club the lead with a goal early in the second half before Defoe went to work for the English Premier League team.
Toronto made liberal substitutions starting in the first half as Sunderland won for the first time after losing twice in its three-game North American tour in preparation for the EPL season that starts next month.
The sparse crowd booed when Defoe's name was called as the lineups were announced before the game and again when Defoe touched the ball early in the game.
His goals in the 66th and 70th minutes brought even more.
He returned to play in England this year after signing with Toronto for the 2014 season with considerable hype.
He was a little surprised, he said, with the boos,
"A little bit," he said. "I think that's, I suppose, part and parcel of football these days. Sometimes you move on. I understand that there are fans that won't be happy but at the same time I'll always appreciate the fans and I still clapped them as I came off. I enjoyed coming back here, it is fantastic city. I've got so many friends here still."
Osorio, who missed a chance at the end of the first half, made no mistake in the second minute of the second half to give Toronto a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute.
Toronto FC Greg Vanney was pleased to see Osorio score and hopes that will get him going.
"He's had a few really good looks throughout the year," Vanney said. "Even one just there at the end of the half, and he couldn't get one across the line. To get one there at the beginning of the second half, sometimes it just takes one to sort of break the seal and get the feel for hitting the back of the net and I hope that's the one for Jonathan. He deserves it, he gets himself into some really good spots."
Defoe scored his first goal of the game on a shot from the edge of the box that was deflected by a Toronto player to tie the game.
He gave Sunderland the lead when he was wide open to receive a pass from Steven Fletcher for an easy goal.
"For him, it's great, two goals," Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat said. "It's good for him. It's good for his confidence."
Advocaat said his team showed the effects of 12 days of training leading up to the match.
"The players, they are tired," he said. "You could see the way they played, sharpness is not there. You get the sharpness back if you give them some days of rest. It was good exercise because Toronto did very well, both teams, because they played with more or less two teams."
Toronto had the advantage in the first few minutes of a game that was slow to build. Toronto FC, trying to get some younger players some time, made eight substitutions at the 32nd minute.
Notes — Sunderland opens its English Premier League schedule Aug. 8 at Leicester City. …The game in Toronto finished Sunderland's North American trip that included one week of training in San Francisco before a 3-1 loss to CF Pachuca of Mexico and a 1-0 loss to the Sacramento Republic. …Toronto FC resumes its MLS schedule Saturday at Columbus.