LONDON — Tottenham forward Clint Dempsey has increased the tension ahead of the Premier League game against Fulham by saying that his former club didn’t give him the recognition he deserved.
On Saturday, Tottenham and Dempsey make the short journey across London to Fulham, the club where he scored 50 goals in 184 league matches from 2007 to 2012.
Despite a number of players swapping between Tottenham and Fulham, Dempsey’s comments — and the way in which he left the club — are likely to ensure he is the one most targeted by the home fans.
“If you always felt valued and appreciated enough, I don’t think you’d ever leave. But it came to a point where I didn’t feel valued and appreciated,” Dempsey said Thursday. “Not by the fans but by other situations. That’s just the way things went.”
Fulham signed Dempsey from the New England Revolution in the MLS in 2007. He was relatively unknown in England then, but wasn’t the first American to play for Fulham. Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride both previously experienced success at the club.
Dempsey totaled 21 league goals in his first 3 1/2 seasons at Craven Cottage before adding 29 more in his final two campaigns at the club, winning Fulham’s “Player of the Season” award in those two years.
His goals boosted his reputation, and his desire to play for a top team.
“The fans were great to me, the chairman was great to me,” Dempsey said. “But it got the point where I wanted to keep going and try to further my career.”
Dempsey’s form hasn’t reached the heights this season that he achieved at Fulham. So far, he has three goals and two assists in the league as he adjusts to playing as a secondary striker at Tottenham.
Because of the way Dempsey forced his way out of Fulham, which included being fined a week’s wages for refusing to play, a hostile reception surely awaits Saturday.
“How you’re received, you’re received,” he said. “It’s unfortunate how things happened, but I look forward to going back.”