Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Spurs' Jermain Defoe: West Ham fans call me a Judas but I still love that club

Spurs' Jermain Defoe: West Ham fans call me a Judas but I still love that club

The striker opens up about the "massive mistake" he made asking to leave the Hammers, his career, his love life and more
Hammer blow: Defoe blames his ill-timed West Ham transfer request on bad advice
Hammer blow: Defoe blames his ill-timed West Ham transfer request on bad advice
Jamie McDonald
Jermain Defoe says he still loves West Ham – just eight weeks before the opening of the January transfer window.
The Tottenham striker is desperate to make the England World Cup squad next summer but has started only one Premier League game for the north Londoners this season.
And the Hammers will be seeking reinforcements with Andy Carroll out injured.
Defoe grew up not far from Upton Park, in Stratford, and was adored by the Hammers faithful until he asked for a transfer less than 24 hours after they went down in 2003.
But he admits: “It was a massive mistake. I didn’t really want to do it.
“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.
“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.”
Iron man: Local boy Defoe insists he still has a soft spot for West Ham
 The Spurs favourite had posters of Ian Wright in an Arsenal shirt on his bedroom wall. And he also hero-worshipped Paolo Di Canio.
Defoe recalls in Sports Life Stories on ITV4: “The first thing I noticed about Paolo was how tight his shorts were.
“I am not lying – he had size small. If you go to the West Ham shop, it is the kiddies’ size.
“I said, ‘Paolo, why is your kit so tight?’ He said it was because when his kit is tight and he gets in certain situations in the game and players try to pull his shirt, because it is so tight to him, they cannot pull it and he can get away from people.
“Unbelievable player. Someone who always looked after himself. Always tanned. Legs always smooth.
“Genius. Every game, he was the best player on the pitch. I am not going to lie. I ordered small shorts.”
Defoe was eventually sold to Tottenham in January 2004, then moved on to Portsmouth in January 2008 so was cup-tied for Pompey’s FA Cup triumph – and missed Spurs winning the League Cup.
He has still to win a major trophy, and reckons his career will be a failure if that does not change.
“Yeah, because I think especially playing for a top club, a club where you should win trophies it would be disappointing,” he admitted.
“At the end of your career you want to sit back and say I won this or I won that because that’s what it’s all about. You want to win things and you want to be the best.
“Spurs is a great club with a great history. That is why this year is a big year. I believe we can win something and I believe that once the first one comes, more come after that.”
Defoe’s brother Gavin died in 2009 and last year he lost his father Jimmy to cancer while his cousin Hannah died in an accident.
The tragedy moved him to set up the Jermain Defoe Foundation to help children back on his grandparents’ island of St Lucia.
He admitted: “I’m sitting there thinking, ‘am I dreaming? This can’t be happening, not again. Is there a jinx on the family. It doesn’t make any sense burying my younger cousin weeks after burying my dad.’
“It changes your mentality completely. The things you think are important are not. The things you make a big deal about you shouldn’t. You can only play football for so long and I believe there is more to me than that. ”

Defoe at West Ham and Spurs

 West HamTottenham
Subs on3189
Subs off569
Minutes played445016922
Minutes per goal247.22188.02
Yellow cards325
Red cards02

Defoe on... his love life

Jermain Defoe has claimed no-one would bother about his eventful love life if he worked in Nando’s.
The England star has been dubbed a love rat after his romantic liaisons with X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton and models Danielle Lloyd, Imogen Thomas, Charlotte Mears and Laura Brown.
But Defoe, 31, said: “I know in my heart I’m not a bad person. I know my family love me. If you go on Google and see pictures of course you’re going to read (things) into pictures.
Jermain-Defoe with Imogen Thomas
Model citizen: Defoe with Imogen Thomas
 “But at the same time if I worked in Nando’s and I went out with those same girls, for one, it wouldn’t be on Google, and for two, it wouldn’t matter because no-one cares.
“You’re young, you’re successful, you earn a lot of money, you attract girls. Your life changes.
“If someone says they don’t like the attention they’re lying. How can you not like the attention from girls? It’s normal. I am a young boy. I’m only human.
“I am still the same person who grew up in East London with his family. If you show me love, I will show love back.”

Defoe on... his debt to mum Sandra

Without the strict upbringing from his mother Sandra, Jermain Defoe reckons he would never have become a professional footballer.
The Tottenham star, who still goes home for Sunday dinner every week, said: “My mum used to stress the importance of not being on the streets. Not doing things my mates were doing really – partying, drinking, smoking.
Jermain-Defoe with his mum
Mother's pride: Mum Sandra kept a young Defoe on the straight and narrow
 “I was at home in bed, it is as simple as that. Of course I was tempted to join in – I was a lively character. There were times when I didn’t understand but I trusted my mum and listened to her and she was right.
“If you want to do something special in life, you can’t be doing things like that. You can’t be drinking or smoking at a young age.”

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