Scott Parker said it was "upsetting" to be jeered by some West Ham United fans on Monday night, as he returned to Upton Park for the first time since leaving for Tottenham Hotspur in August 2011.
Parker enjoyed a very successful spell at West Ham, winning Hammer of the Year three consecutive times in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In his final season, he was voted the footballer writers' player of the year even as West Ham finished bottom of the Premier League.
But this counted for little on Monday night, as Parker was booed, and the England midfielder said he might have been entitled to expect a slightly better reception.
"I was a little disappointed. In football one thing I have learned is that not much surprises you but I didn't expect West Ham fans to boo me and it was upsetting. They see it that I went to a local rival. I just thought I might get a better reception for what I did here and for the time I spent here, really."
Parker, enjoying an extended run in the Spurs team recently, is excited about the prospect of opening up a seven-point gap over Arsenal if they beat their local rivals in Sunday afternoon's derby.
"Tottenham as a club has been living in the shadows of Arsenal a bit," Parker admitted. "Arsenal is still a top, top side but certainly we have narrowed the gap. We have players in our squad that Arsenal would want any day of the week. It's a big game for us as we can push away a little bit."
The win over West Ham was the third recent game that Gareth Bale had settled with a spectacular late winner and Parker admitted that they were indebted to the Welsh international for leading them to a crucial victory.
"Words can't describe how well he is playing, at the time I thought we were a bit sloppy and yet again he stepped up and got us three points," Parker said.
Gylfi Sigurdsson added that Bale had shown he is on a par with the very best players in the world.
"Probably Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Lionel] Messi and Gareth are up there," he said. "They are outstanding players and Gareth showed it again at the end that he can do something special and we are all happy for him. We are all happy that he is here at the moment. He has to be up there [on that level]. He has been doing it for many years and you can see he is a special player."