Many people had doubts over whether or not the 33-year-old's time had past when he initially arrived at the Stadium of Light from Toronto FC as a straight swap for flop Jozy Altidore.
However he has put any worries to bed this season with 16 goals in all competitions; the best Black Cats total since Darren Bent's in 2009-10. Defoe said that his prolonged time at the top was down to the former Sunderland manager.
Defoe told the Sunderland Echo that Di Canio was "unbelievable" and a "proper professional" who did "all the right things", with the former England forward admitting that he "always wanted to be like that".
He continued, saying that "nothing changes" whether it be a "different club" or "different formation". The key is "getting that chance" and that a striker "can't be afraid" to get in the "same areas" when they happen too "miss a few".
Point to prove
The veteran forward's performances this season earned him the Sunderland Supporters' Association Player of the Year award - just pipping Jan Kirchhoff - with Duncan Watmore winning the Young Player of the Year.
Former manager Dick Advocaat had doubts over Defoe at the beginning of the season, but said that he was determined to prove that he still had what it takes at the top level.
He said that when he initially signed all he wanted to do was to "score goals" and be in a "successful team", helping the side to "stay in the Premier League".
Defoe continued, saying that he believed he could still "score goals in the Premier League" and wanted to "prove people wrong". Even though he is 33, he said he can "still score goals" and still "look sharp in games".
Sunderland will visit Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, April 30 with kick-off at 3pm BST.