1998 – 2012 Defender
Height : – 1.87m
Weight : – 91 kgs
The “new Sol Campbell”, as Ledley King was lazily dubbed by the media, should have made a big impact on the game at the very top level, but a string of injuries hampered what should have been a glittering career. Despite that he wasn’t “the new” anything, but the one and only Ledley King.Ledley’s early footballing steps were taken in East London, where he was raised. Attending Olga Primary School and the Blessed John Roche Roman Catholic School, he played for the Senrab club that spawned a large number of professional footballers. He was invited to Tottenham to trial for the Academy and the rest is Spurs history. A strapping lad, who unexpectedly made his first team debut at Liverpool in season 1998-99, coming on as a substitute in our League game at Anfield. Tall, good in the air and an excellent reader of the game, his thin frame was much like that of Campbell when he first broke through, but the England Under-21 international improved both physique and the experience that is necessary to play at the highest level.
In reserve games, King had the confidence to bring the ball out from the back and his distribution was very good. Already selected for the England Under-21 side, the full side called upon him as he progressed into the Tottenham first team. Ledley made his full debut at Derby County in the 1999-2000 season – as a defensive midfielder !! However, serious injury deprived him the chance of carrying on his move to being a regular in the first team squad, although he returned to make a brief appearance at the end of that season against Man U as a sub.
King was unlucky to break his foot in the last minute of England’s last game in the European Under-21 Championships in Slovakia in summer 2000, thus missing pre-season training for Spurs. He recovered from that and won a place in the first team because of injuries to others. His calm influence and accurate passing showed that he might be the player to step into the middle of defence or midfield of the first XI.
In November 2000, he broke into the team on the back of injuries elsewhere in the squad and did very well. Scored his first goal against Bradford City on 9.12.2000 within ten seconds of the kick off – a Premier League record for the fastest goal ever at that time. Made a place in the side his and it was only a broken cheekbone at Sunderland in April 2001 that ended his season and he only returned to training in pre-season for 2001-2002. He had been at fault for the goal that condemned Tottenham to defeat in the Worthington Cup final, but had produced more than enough good performances in the 2001-02 season to balance that out.
The defender made some headway on the international front, making his debut in the full side as sub against Italy, going on to win 21 caps and playing in the European Championship finals of 2004 and the 2010 World Cup.
Ledley picked up a knee injury prior to the start of the 2002-03 season and missed the first few games because of it. He came back and established himself back in the side, although appeared more tentative than previously, which might have had something to do with the injury and the poor patch the team were going through after Christmas 2002.
Another injury kept Ledley, now the club captain, out of the reckoning shortly before the start of the 2003-04 season kicked off and then four games in, he tore a hamstring, keeping him out for another two months. Up until that point, he had been playing without conviction and the rest and a change in management and tactics, seemed to benefit him when he returned to the side.
He did well under Santini, as there was a more defensive focus to the team, but his resignation saw Martin Jol take over and he played the game differently to the Frenchman. A more attacking style saw Spurs lose 4-5 in the first home game with King scoring and also involved in one of the goals conceded. However, he became a pillar of strength in the middle of defence and was joined in 2005 by Michael Dawson, who looked to be the player that King had been waiting to play alongside, as Spurs finished fifth in the Premier League (their highest finish at that time) to qualify for a UEFA Cup spot.
The 2006-07 season saw a lot of games and unfortunately a lot of goals conceded, which might have come as a consequence of King being injured on Boxing Day and not returning until mid-March. His injury was to his foot and hip and it seemed that these were recurrent injuries. The lack of a reliable partner in the middle of defence and the spate of injuries he has suffered in his career (which have meant that he rarely starts a season fully fit and raring to go) perhaps held King back from being the major name in the game he should have been. Many times, bigger clubs have shown interest in his signing, but he has remained with Tottenham, where he wanted lead the club on to win things. In 2008 that happened when he lifted the League Cup after the 2007-2008 final at the new Wembley saw Spurs win 2-1 against Chelsea in extra time.
Under Ramos, King was used sparingly at the start of the 2008-09 season, featuring mainly in the UEFA Cup rather than the league, where Tottenham struggled, picking up only two points in eight games, which lead to Ramos’ departure from the club. With new boss Harry Redknapp identifying King as a key player in Spurs’ aim to secure Premier League football, he ensured the captain played as many league games as possible and his 24 starts played a major part in taking Spurs up to a final finishing position of eighth and only losing out on penalties in the League Cup final to Manchester United.
The one stain on an otherwise unblemished career came on 10th May 2009, when he was arrested outside a West End club at 02.30 in the morning on suspicion of common assault and causing actual bodily harm, but he was later cleared of the matter.
With a successful start to the 2009-10 season, Ledley was featuring once a week, but a groin injury against Birmingham stopped his appearances in his tracks. A similar problem stopped him playing only six games in the early part of the following season, but he managed to return for the last two matches of the season to put in very good performances to help Spurs to the two wins they needed to secure fifth place and European football once more.
As his importance to the team continued, Spurs invariably looked a better team when he was playing and won regularly when they had him in the side, but the concession of a last minute penalty at Manchester City in January 2012 perhaps hinted that his judgement was not what it was and as the season went on, it became painfully obvious that the pain that Ledley was playing through was taking its toll. Pushed into action because of the injuries to other central defenders, King played for the cause, but the Norwich home game in particular saw him bullied by players he would previously have had in his pocket.
It was not a huge surprise that on the expiry of his contract in July 2012, Ledley announced his retirement from playing to take up an ambassadorial role with the club and it was hoped that he would have some coaching input in the future. This was realised when he was appointed as a First Team assistant coach on 6th August 2020, with special responsibility for players coming into the First Team squad from the Academy.
Ledley King was a player that those who had seen him play will appreciate in a way that only one club players can be feted by their own supporters.
NICKNAME : Ledders; The King of White Hart Lane
|Was the holder of the record for the fastest ever Premier League goal v Bradford City (away) 09.12.2000 scored in 10 seconds of the kick off. Only beaten in 2019.|
First game attended : A match at Millwall, as he went with a Lions supporting friend, but can’t remember who it was against.
Travelling : Enjoys travelling, but isn’t a great sight-seer
Favourite destinations : Miami, Barbados
Gifts brought home : For son Cobi and his Mum
Favourite journey : Home from White Hart Lane after a win
Favourite car : First one, a Mercedes
Reading : In hotel rooms when on away trips
Favourite CD : “Legend” – Best of Bob Marley
Ideal dinner guest of all time : Cassius Clay
Pets : Two tanks of tropical fish (about 20)
Dance moves copied as a child : Michael Jackson
First football memory : Going to a Millwall match with a friend and his Dad when about 9. Then watching the 1990 World Cup on TV.
Early favourite players : Gazza; Roberto Baggio
Trick practiced when young : “Round the world” – flicking the ball up with your foot and circling the foot around the ball.
Other school sports played : Basketball, athletics (ran for Belgrave Harriers once)
Childhood pet : Dog (pitbull) – for two days
Most desirable talent to have outside of football : Singing
Childhood ambition : To be a footballer
Car driven : Bentley
|What they said about Ledley King|
Stephen Carr … on Ledley’s qualities 17.03.2001 (THFC programme)“Ledley King is another (young player) and so level-headed in the heat of the action in defence or midfield.”
Glenn Hoddle … on Ledley King … 10.05.2014 (THFC website)“When I first saw Ledley King play as a youngster, the thing that impressed me most was how calm he was,” recalled Glenn. “He was never flustered; even in and around his own penalty box while under pressure, he was always in control. I loved the way he played; so two-footed as he brought the ball out of defence. He had such natural ability and possessed supreme confidence in what he could do. Where some defenders would panic, Ledley would dominate.”
Harry Redknapp … 18.12.2008 (The Guardian)“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.”
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|What Ledley King said about …|
… playing in pain… February 2012 (Hotspur Magazine)“To be honest, when I come off the pitch at the end of the game, without injury, I feel relieved. I don’t play in pain, but I do play in discomfort and there are restrictions. I’ve learned to adapt my game. I don’t do as much running, nor do I try to get forward as much.”
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|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Champions League||UEFA Cup|
|2000-2001||18 (1 goal)||5 (1 goal)||0||–||–|
|2001-2002||32||3||7 (1 goal)||–||–|
|2003-2004||29 (1 goal)||3 (1 goal)||3||–||–|
|2004-2005||38 (2 goals)||5 (1 goal)||4||–||–|
|2005-2006||26 (3 goals)||0||1||–||–|
|2008-2009||24 (1 goal)||0||2||–||3|
|2009-2010||20 (2 goals)||1||0||–||–|
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