Jermain Defoe is running the risk of upsetting Tottenham Hotspur supporters by admitting that he's still "in love" with rival London club West Ham United, reports the Daily Mirror.
The England international looks back regrettably on the day he handed in a transfer request at Upton Park, less than 24 hours after the Hammers were relegated from the Premier League in 2003.
Defoe puts the "massive mistake" down to poor guidance from a former agent, and says that despite the hostile feeling towards him from his former club's fans, West Ham is still very close to his heart.
“It was a massive mistake. I didn’t really want to do it," reflected the 31-year old. “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 Hammers chief executive) Paul Aldridge and I gave him the letter and he said, ‘What’s this?’ And 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."
Defoe was eventually sold to Tottenham in January 2004, then moved on to Portsmouth four years later, to be reunited with former Hammers boss Harry Redknapp at Fratton Park.
He followed Redknapp back to White Hart Lane again in January 2009, and has remained in north London ever since, now playing his football under the stewardship of Andre Villas-Boas.
“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’," Defoe added.
"And it’s quite sad really because I can honestly say I still love that club.”
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