The Sunderland striker last turned out for the Three Lions in a 2-0 defeat to Chile in November 2014, earning his 55th cap.
Despite featuring in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and scoring three goals, Defoe was omitted from the 23-man squad for the finals in Brazil.
There were also calls for the 34-year-old to be included in the Euro 2016 squad after his 15 goals in 33 appearances kept Sunderland in the Premier League last season.
“There were times where I did think ‘maybe I’m not going to get in’, and I came out and said it, but it didn’t stop me getting my head down, working hard and hoping one day I’d get an opportunity to represent my country again,” he said.
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“I was getting a lot of stick from the lads at the training ground saying ‘why have you still got the England flag on your boots?’ I was just hoping one day I’d get an opportunity and it’s come, so I’m delighted.
“I’ve always known how important it is to play for England from day one. When you’ve had that experience of going to major tournaments, it’s something that you just crave.
“Just going to a major tournament, travelling, getting to the hotels, playing the games – it’s something you’ve always wanted to do from being a kid, growing up watching the great players over the years.
“Playing in the major tournaments, going out and emulating the players you’ve seen on TV. Being lucky enough to have experienced it, you just want it more and more. So for me, if I do get an opportunity to go to another major tournament, it’d be a dream.”