Just months after controversially handing in a transfer request the day after West Ham were relegated from the Premier League – a decision he has since said he regrets – Defoe was then being accused by West Ham fans of trying to force his way out of the club by deliberately getting sent off.
However, in an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, Defoe has explained the real reasons behind those red cards. He said: “Looking from a West Ham fans’ point of view, I understand why they might think I was doing it on purpose but if you really knew me, you’d know all I want to do is score goals and play every game, so why would I want to miss football matches?
“At the time I felt like I was a target for players I played against and the referees. That’s how I felt. People were trying to wind me up and referees weren’t really protecting me because I was in the spotlight after what had happened with the transfer request.
Defoe has only received two more red cards in 16 years since, which goes to show that it was out of character and not a reflection of his character, but it’s clear all the off-field problems he found himself involved in following the ill-advised transfer request had begun to affect his efforts on the pitch.
“The backlash was just crazy! I had so much anger and I was so frustrated with the whole transfer request situation. I didn’t really know what was going on.”
You can read the full interview with Jermain Defoe, in conjunction with On The Ball Global, here.