Jermain Defoe has revealed his regret over the manner in which his departure from West Ham United was handled.

The forward joined the Hammers at the age of 16 but handed in a transfer request following the club’s relegation from the Premier League in 2003.

He ultimately left in February of 2004 to join rivals Tottenham Hotspur but has confessed that he could have managed the situation in a more professional fashion.

“The manner in which I left West Ham I would change. My agent, at the time, said I had to hand in a transfer request,” Defoe told Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast.

“When I was young, I didn’t really understand transfer requests, I had never come across one before and my agent told me it was the right thing to do.

“I trusted my agent and I thought this must be the process – hand in a transfer request and when you do that, you would be the first out the door, that’s what he said to me.

“At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing, but looking back I’d change that 100 per cent. I think it’s disrespectful.”

With 29 goals from 94 appearances, Defoe had made an extremely promising start to his West Ham career but falling out of the top division meant it was difficult for the Irons to keep hold of their prized assets.

The 35-year-old has been a regular goal-getter in the Premier League for almost two decades, finding the back of the net 163 times across spells with five different clubs.

In the years following Defoe’s departure, West Ham have struggled to find a reliable striker to lead the line, with Marlon Harewood’s 14 strikes in 2005-06 still standing as the East Londoners’ best top-flight tally for a player in a single season over that period.