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The Tottenham striker left Upton Park in 2006 after handing in a transfer request, but he admits the abuse from fans of his boyhood club still hurts to this day

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe still loves West Ham and admits leaving the club was a "massive mistake".

The England international crossed London in January 2004 for a fee of £6 million after handing in a transfer request less than 24 hours after the Hammers' relegation from the Premier League.

The move angered West Ham fans due to the rivalry between the two sides, and Defoe says he still regrets leaving his boyhood club and feels he was advised poorly ahead of his Upton Park exit.

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"It was a massive mistake. I didn’t really want to do it," Defoe told ITV4's 'Sport Life Stories', which is due to air on November 5.

"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."

Goal understands Andre Villas-Boas is open to offers for Defoe in January, with Ryan Nelsen's Toronto FC the latest club to admit interest in the Englishman.

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