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
Latest in Sport
Karim Benzema to Arsenal: Real Madrid striker fuels speculation he will join Gunners with cryptic Instagram post
Chelsea vs Barcelona: what channel is it on and how can I watch it?
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Arsene Wenger hits back over Jose Mourinho's claims 'buying success' ahead of Community Shield
Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool – highest and lowest transfer spenders revealed
Outraged Vietnamese fan burns Manchester City tickets after being snubbed by Raheem Sterling, Samir Nasri and others
- 1 Cecil the lion: Dentist Walter Palmer blames local guides in Zimbabwe for the scandal
- 2 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 3 Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband