West Ham's Jermain Defoe has handed in a written transfer request less than 24 hours after the club's relegation from the Premiership.
England Under-21 striker Defoe was one of the shining lights in a season of despair for the Hammers, who will play First Division football after their 2-2 draw at Birmingham City.
But Defoe, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United, is not prepared to play outside the top flight.
The 20-year-old said: "As much as I love West Ham United I feel that now is the right time for me to move on in my career.
"This is very much a career decision.
"I am very ambitious and hungry to achieve at the highest levels of the game for both club and country.
"The club staff and especially the fans are very dear to me and have been unbelievable in the early part of my career.
"It will always be a special place for me to play."
The announcement did not go down well with Tony Fowles, editor of West Ham fanzine "Ironworks Gazette".
He said: "We are all still a bit numb at the moment and so the timing of this stinks.
"You can understand why he might not want to play in the First Division next season, but you'd have thought he'd have waited until relegation had sunk in.
"He might have waited until the summer, or even until Glenn Roeder had undergone his brain surgery."
Goalkeeper David James also criticised his team-mate.
"Everyone knows the club will have to make changes to cope with our reduced circumstances," the England international told the Times newspaper.
"But the right thing to do is let the club work out where it stands first.
"I can only hope that Jermain Defoe was acting on the advice of someone else when he submitted a written transfer request.
"We have not even been relegated for 48 hours, so I do not think it is helpful, even if he thinks it is best for his career."
Defoe did not score this season until the 3-2 win at Chelsea at the end of September, but hit a rich vein of form as the Hammers' form improved.
He failed to net in the club's final six games as their fight for Premiership survival proved unsuccessful but is regarded as one of the club's most saleable assets.
Defoe, who joined from Charlton nearly four years ago, flourished in a loan spell at Bournemouth in 2000-01, netting 19 goals in 29 games.
He made an impact in his first season in West Ham's first team, scoring 14 goals in a season which saw the Hammers finish seventh in the Premiership.
West Ham fans will fear Defoe's decision will be the start of a mass exodus of stars, including Joe Cole, Freddie Kanoute and Michael Carrick.