Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Premier League

Jermain Defoe says transfer from West Ham to Tottenham was 'a massive mistake'

The striker agitated for a switch after the Hammers were relegated from the Premier League

Jermain Defoe has said his decision to force a move from West Ham to Tottenham in 2004 was a “massive mistake”.

Speaking to ITV4's 'Sport Life Stories', the England international revealed he still loves his boyhood club and feels he was badly advised at the time.

Defoe completed a £6m move to White Hart Lane after handing in a transfer request following the Hammers' relegation from the Premier League.

It was a decision that led to a backlash from fans and his eventual move to north London, but it was also something Defoe now says, "was a massive mistake. I didn’t really want to do it."

During the documentary, which will be shown tonight, Defoe explains: "We’re talking about leaving the club I was in love with at the time because I came through the youth system with my friends, the fans loved me there. They were brilliant - every game they sang my name.

"The person who represented me at the time said, 'You need to hand in a transfer request and get in early because all the lads are going to leave'.

"I remember going in and I was so nervous. It was [then-West Ham chief executive] Paul Aldridge and I gave him the letter and he said, 'What’s this?' And I said, 'It's a transfer request'. He looked at me as if to say, 'Are you kidding?'

"The backlash was crazy. I felt like I was on my own and people were absolutely abusing me.

"To this day I can imagine West Ham fans look at me and think, 'Who does he think he is? How can you do that? You're a Judas'. And it's quite sad really because I can honestly say I still love that club."

Defoe is now in his second spell at White Hart Lane but with the arrival of Roberto Soldado limiting his opportunities, it is understand the 31-year-old will be allowed to leave in January.

Defoe (right) pictured after West Ham's relegation in 2003