I magine over the years that West Ham United had a decent fox in the box-esque striker who could gobble up all those chances we have created over the seasons for the likes of Ilan, Carlton Cole, Mido and Benny McCarthy to miss. Well we had one once, and he has since gone onto to have a decent time of things even if his career wasn’t full of all the glitz and glamour like the others that he followed out the door.
He may not have won titles like Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick and Joe Cole, but his departure was perhaps the most controversial of all, and the one the Hammers faithful all wish never happened. He is like the break-up you wish you never had, the one that got away if you like, the one you still pine for at the darkest of times and wish you had never let go. Yes they were a nightmare, and yes they got on your nerves at times, but they were the best you ever had.
Now I am not saying this player is the best player West Ham have ever produced but of his ilk we have seldom oft en produced a player of his talent and the fact we let him go to Tottenham of all places still leaves a sour taste in the mouth.I am of course talking about Jermain Defoe, the former Hammers forward that was so desperate to escape the East End that he flew into reckless tackles on a regular basis just so he didn’t have to ply his trade in the Championship for West Ham.
Legend has since said that the youngster was poorly advised by his agent so what would have become of Defoe had his agent not got into his head? Would he still be a Hammer? Would the Hammers be a more successful outfit? Would Defoe find himself at a struggling Sunderland side or would he be the ultimate Irons hero banging in the goals at the Hammers shiny new home?
Of course, these are all ifs, buts and maybes. But as I watched on at the Hawthorns it was painfully obvious we were missing that fox in the box figure, and Defoe would be the perfect foil for the likes of Simone Zaza and Jonathon Calleri. Defoe alongside Andy Carroll is a partnership that just screams goals with balls from Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet and Sofaine Feghouli whipping balls in from the wing for Carroll to knock down to his diminutive striking partner.
The now 33-year-old has always been a prolific forward wherever he has been, starting his career in the Charlton academy before joining the Hammers in the late nineties.
He saw red three times in the Hammers maiden voyage into the Championship under Alan Pardew, indeed he would only make 22 appearances out of a possible 34 second division games for Pardew’s men before completing a move to the Hammers arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Upon handing in his transfer request he insisted that any move would be firmly for his career and further his personal ambitions.
Now it would be foolish for me to suggest he has had a poor career since leaving the Hammers, he enjoyed Champions League football with Tottenham and European football with Portsmouth and has had a successful England career. But since those heady days his career has stagnated somewhat and he even moved to Canada to play for Toronto FC briefly.
Not many players stick with one club, but had Defoe stayed in E13, you can bet that he would have found hero status and would have entered the London Stadium as a Hammers great. Having him in the side would not only have helped us avoid relegation under Grant but you can bet the Hammers would be playing in the Champions League right now with Defoe in the attack.
West Ham have been so often the nearly men, and with the 33-year-old in tow, the Hammers would have achieved so much more than they have thus far, I would have expected us to have won a trophy had we had a player like Defoe in our side. Indeed, in an interview in 2013 on ITV4’s Sports Life Stories, Defoe revealed his regret in leaving the Hammers, admitting it was a ‘massive, massive mistake’.
I actually feel sorry for JD, it appears the advice from his agent wasn’t great and now he has received hate his entire career from the Hammers faithful. He has enjoyed a successful career, but every boy dreams of taking the club you start your career with to glory, and I am sure he has a nagging doubt and thoughts of what if?
But that’s sport, and whilst he may look back in frustration, I can tell you now not as much as the West Ham faithful look back and wish he had stayed. Make no bones about it, Defoe has had a terrific career, and I am sure West Ham needed him over the years more than he needed us. But I firmly believe that Jermain will retire thinking he has unfinished business with the Hammers.