The 31-year-old has signed for Major League Soccer franchise Toronto FC and, due to a hamstring injury, was unable to take his place in the Spurs squad for their Europa League round-of-32 second leg against Dnipro.
But Defoe, who has spent nine years at Tottenham over the course of two spells, emerged at half-time to leave the fans with a departing message.
"I'm just speechless," he said following a rousing reception.
"I remember it like it was yesterday when I walked on to the pitch and signed. Even before I kicked a ball, the reception was fantastic. It's something I will never forget. I will cherish and appreciate that.
"I'm going to miss this place. It's been a part of my life and for my family. It's a special place."
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