Thursday, 19 July 2012

A legend in my time

Today we received the sad, but inevitable news that our most loyal player since Gary Mabbutt, Ledley King, is hanging up his boots for the final time.

Growing up as a youngster in the 90's, I idolised (past tense) a man by the name of Sol. Whilst I don't want to talk of this man in the same breath as our Ledders, it was the heartbreak of his departure that stemmed my admiration for King.

King broke into the first team picture at the age of just 19 years old, called up to play a strong Liverpool side in a central midfield role. Performing admirably as Spurs won 2-1, Spurs fans began to believe we had a talent on our hands. Just how good this young lad was, we didn't know but we were soon to find out.

Just a month later Ledley marked his place in the record books with his first goal for the club against Bradford City, scoring in just 9 seconds, a Premier league record for the fastest goal scored that still stands today. I still remember running around my garden trying to emulate the goal from distance. A new hero had stepped forward and this 9 year old had well and truly jumped on the Ledley bandwagon.

When David Pleat took over as caretaker manager Ledley was brought back into his favoured position at the heart of the Spurs defence. Whilst the club struggled in the early naughtiest for consistency, Ledley shone and eventually came to the attentions of the England Manager at the time, Sven Goran Erikssen. Dispossession the favoured duo of Terry and Ferdinand seemed unlikely but Ledley was handed his opportunity in a major match against France at Euro 2004. Stepping in for John Terry, King had many doubters before the game, but a man of the match performance, despite England conceding two late goals, hushed the critics and it looked like Terry and Ferdinand finally had some worthy competition.

Unfortunately in 2006 the beginnings of Ledley's injury problems began to surface stemming from a pre-season knee injury. King played less than half of all Spurs games that season and in his absence kept just 3 clean sheets.

From that season on Ledley's knees have been slowly declining in mobility as the muscle gradually deteriorated to the point last season where injections were necessary to build up enough muscle to get through a game.

Finally today on 19th July 2012, our club captain has accepted defeat in his battle with injury and moved into an ambassadorial role.

During his career he led Spurs to League Cup glory in 2007 and from a personal perspective picked up a total of 21 caps for England with 2 international goals to his name.

Thierry Henry is just one of his peers who has come out with strong words of praise, telling how 'he (Ledley) will get the ball off you without you even noticing'. He later went on to say King was the best defender he played against in his time in the Premier League. High praise indeed.

And if anyone is still not convinced of our former club captains ability, i'd like to direct you to a little known website called YouTube. If you type in 'King Robben tackle' you will see just one example of the superb defending King has shown in his time at the club.

Unlike Paul Scholes, there is no chance of a return to playing. We as a club need to now move on with a potentially exciting future set out ahead of us. Nevertheless Ledley has written his name into Spurs folklore and his legacy will live on for generations. Best of luck for the future Ledders.

Follow me on Twitter: @Cjipps

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