Defoe's 'massive mistake'

  • by Staff Writer
  • Tuesday, 5th November 2013

Jermain Defoe has admitted that leaving West Ham in 2003 was "a massive, massive mistake".

The Tottenham striker, who coincidentally happens to be searching for a new club having fallen down the pecking order at White Hart Lane told a TV programme that the manner in which he left the Boleyn Ground was the result of bad advice from his agent at the time.

"It was a massive mistake. I didn't really want to do it," he told ITV4's Sports Life Stories. "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 (Chief Executive) Paul Aldridge and I gave him the letter and he said, 'What's this?' I said, 'It's a transfer request'. And 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's transfer request, which was handed in less than 24 hours after West Ham were relegated from the Premier League read: "I am very ambitious and hungry to achieve at the highest levels of the game for both club and country.

"The club staff and especially the fans are very dear to me and have been unbelievable in the early part of my career. It will always be a special place for me to play."

Defoe previously apologised for the manner in which he left the club seven years ago, when he stated, 'I was young, badly advised and made a mistake. I didn't have enough experience to deal with what I was being told'.

* Sports Life Stories featuring Jermain Defoe may be seen on ITV4 at 10pm tonight [Tuesday].

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