So, there goes one of the most influential, highly gifted and one of the best defenders of a generation, if only Ledley King had two knees.
King joined Spurs as a trainee in 1996, gradually progressing through the youth system, his first team opportunity came under George Graham’s reign at White Hart Lane, who used him as a deep lying midfielder, breaking up the play.
King recorded the fastest ever goal in Premier League history, 9.7 seconds, this was his first goal for Tottenham, eventually drawing with Bradford 3-3.
King was at the forefront of everything great that happened to Tottenham over the 13 years he played for the club, he captained Spurs to their first ever win over rivals Chelsea in Premier League history in 2006, and their first win over the West Londoners since 1990. King captained Spurs to his first and only major honour in his Spurs career, over rivals Chelsea in 2008, beating them 2-1 in extra time.
King was one of the most promising and one of the best defenders that the British Isles had seen, but his chronic knee injuries, shattered his dreams of reaching more major honours with both club and country.
King’s first appearance with England, will always be remembered by pundits, journalists, players and fans alike, as he made the perfect debut, albeit losing the game 2-1 to the then European Championship holders, France.
BBC Sport reported:
‘King, who was starting his first match for England, looked impressive and the anonymity of Henry in the first half owed much to the Spurs centre-half’s concentration at the back.’
‘The England defender made an important clearance to cut out Vieira’s flick-on as France sought to test James.’
This was not the only time Gunner Thierry Henry felt subdued by the Tottenham legend.
“I don’t like defenders who hold the shirts of other players. The only defender here who doesn’t do that and sometimes still gets the ball off my feet easily is Ledley King.”
“He is the only guy who doesn’t hold players. He will get the ball off you without you even noticing. For me, that is a good defender.”
“He plays without any contact yet is somehow still strong and gets the ball without doing any fouls.”
But King’s chronic knee injuries halted his career, resulting in the Tottenham centre back recording 311 appearances and 10 goals in 13 years.
Former Tottenham Hotspur boss, Harry Redknapp, who left the club in June 2012, had this to say about Ledley King:
“There’s no cure. There’s no cartilage, nothing to operate on. It’s just bone on bone. So it’s just a question of managing it. It swells up after games and it normally takes seven days to recover but having played on Monday night he’s had less time than usual. He rarely trains; he mostly just goes to the gym to keep himself ticking over. But not running or anything like that. But even if he only plays 20 games a season, he’s worth having because he’s so good we have a much better chance of winning.”
Ledley’s last season was his worst, he struggled to cope with the pace of the Premier League, and that was telling when Spurs visited the Etihad, when King gave away a last minute penalty after fouling Italian ‘hardman’ Mario Balotelli, resulting in Super Mario dispatching the penalty and taking a well deserved point away from the North Londoners.
But let’s not dwell on that game, in over 300 appearances for Tottenham, King received 8 yellow cards, and 0 red cards, that’s right, a big fat ZERO.
King Ledley of White Hart Lane, one of the greatest servants to N17 since Bill Nicholson and his boys.
I’ll leave you with THE video that set Ledley King apart from other defenders.