DAVID Bentley has apologised to Blackburn Rovers fans for the manner in which he exited the club five years ago – admitting he didn’t know what he had until he’d lost it.

The Spurs loanee made his Rovers return as a second half substitute in Saturday’s FA Cup win at Arsenal and is desperate to repay the club for giving him “the best times” of his career so far.

Ahead of tonight’s crucial Championship trip to Hull City, Bentley, right, admits ‘in hindsight’ quitting Rovers for Spurs in 2008 was a mistake but insists he did it solely for “footballing reasons”.

He also insists he regrets the way he behaved ahead of the £15million move, when he publicly stated his desire to leave, but believes he has since matured as a person.

He said: “I apologise to the Blackburn fans for the way I left and went about it all. I was young and naïve and maybe those decisions I made were the wrong decisions.

“I apologise because I loved being here and I thank the club for all they did for me, hopefully I can repay them now.

“I was a young man and made a mistake in moving. It was a decision I wanted at the time.

“You can’t act like that. I am not PR driven, I don’t have anyone looking after me telling me what to say, and I made mistakes along the way.

“When I finish I will able to say I did it my way. I would rather that than just spoon feed people lies.

“What you see is what you get and people don’t like that. Some would rather me show an image of being the perfect man but that isn’t the case.”

Bentley made more than 100 league appearances for Rovers between 2005 and 2008, helping the club into Europe, gained international recognition and won the player of the year award at Ewood.

Since moving to White Hart Lane Bentley’s career has stalled, with the wideman spending time on loan at Birmingham City, West Ham and Russian outfit FC Rostov.

“Rovers were the best years of my career because of the humble nature of the place, it was being part of a family. I didn’t realise how good it was until I left,” he said.

“It is nice to be back. Like it has been for me, it has been a difficult time for the club.

“This club’s foundations have always been on its morals and its history. It is a good place with good people and the club always needs to keep that.

“The last couple of years it has probably lost its heart and soul but with the manager and staff now it seems the club may be on an upward curl again.

“I could have stayed at Blackburn but I was trying to be ambitious. I was trying to drive my career forward, I didn’t really want to leave because I had it so nice and so good.”

Bentley has arrived at Ewood on loan until the end of the season, with Rovers expected to make attempts to make the move permanent in the summer, as the 28-year-old bids to restart his career.

He said: “Sometimes people don’t like my personality. Sometimes when you have a smile on your face, people think you are not working hard or taking things seriously. That is not the case.

“My decision to join Spurs was a footballing one, it just did not happen for me. I was a bit of a naughty boy at times.

“Maybe I was a bit cheeky at times. There were three or four instances that will get mentioned. The car crash incident, the water over Harry Redknapp – mistakes.

“Sometimes you get judged on a perception that was completely wrong.”