Joe Cole admits his decision to join Liverpool in 2010 was a mistake, claiming his only other option was an unthinkable move to Tottenham.
Cole, 31, spent two-and-a-half years as a player at Anfield but failed to become a regular in the first team, being sent out on loan to Lille last season before rejoining his boyhood club West Ham in January.
The England international says he never felt comfortable at Livepool but was forced to take up the only offer that appealed to him.
"I can only play for teams that I'm passionate about and I think that's what went wrong for me at Liverpool," Cole said. "I didn't feel a connection with the club or the place that I had at Chelsea and West Ham.
"I had seven great years at Chelsea but the club wanted to go in a certain direction and I wasn't involved. So I was left with two real options - Liverpool or Spurs.
"Spurs was probably the best option because they were offering me a five-year deal and it meant I could stay in familiar surroundings.
"But I just couldn't do it, I just couldn't see myself pulling that Spurs shirt over my head. With the rivalry between Spurs and West Ham and Chelsea, it felt a bit mercenary."
Cole believes the mentality at Liverpool made it difficult for him to settle in, with their insistence on being known as the "biggest club in the country" catching him off guard.
"When I joined, the guy interviewing me said 'you've joined the biggest club in the country' and reeled off the trophies they'd won," he said. ""I just said 'yeah, if you put it like that, I suppose you're right' and Liverpool used that as the headline to the interview.
"I didn't want to upset anyone so I just went along with it. But obviously they're not the biggest club in the country any more. How do you judge how big a club are? Nottingham Forest won the European Cup twice but they're not a bigger club than Chelsea."
Although issues with match time plagued Cole at Chelsea, he seemed more motivated to break into the Blues' line-up than he did at Liverpool.
"I rolled in at Chelsea on my first day thinking 'I'm going to be a big part of this club'," he added. "Then Sebastian Veron walks through the door with about five agents. Same position as me, costing three or four times as much.
"As soon as I signed, (former owner Ken) Bates said to me: 'Congratulations, son, you've joined to sit on our bench'. I just thought 'I'll show you' and a year later I was playing regularly and Veron was off."
And his decision to return to Upton Park was not only buoyed by an unhappy stint with the Reds.
"I was missing London and my family and I had a personal tragedy in December when my brother-in-law died. I got an opportunity to go back to West Ham and I don't want to move any more."