Ledley King joined Spurs as a schoolboy at the age of 14 in 1994 and progressed through the youth system, gaining England recognition at under-age level. He played his first game in the Premier League as a half-time substitute at Anfield in May, 1999. Spurs lost 3 – 2, having been two up but reduced to 10-men. He played at left-back and after the game was disappointed because as he puts it in his autobiography, ‘when I came on we were 2 – 0 up and when the games finished we’d lost 3 – 2.‘
Ledley King showed great loyalty to Tottenham, playing 321 games for the club in all competitions and he defied all laws of reason by continuing to produce outstanding performances even when battling against injury problems which restricted his ability to train during his final years with Spurs. He was supreme defender and but for injury would have earned so many more than his 21 caps for England.
Right-back, left-back, midfield, central defender – it made no difference to Ledley – he was just pleased to be in the team. The departure of Sol Campbell gave him the opportunity of playing regularly in central defence and he stepped up to the mark and never looked back – a permanent place in the Spurs team was his until retiring in the summer of 2012 apart from his recurring injury problems.
King was the keystone at the heart of the Tottenham defence and everyone played so much better with Ledley as their central defensive partner. He was a master of reading the game, putting in a telling tackle or using his pace to cover back to challenge under the most difficult of circumstances. Calm, composed, cool under pressure – Ledley King never let the importance of the match get to him and as captain he led by example.
Speaking about Ledley King, Thierry Henry’s remarks were reported in The Independent,
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.
Ledley King had his standards which he tried to maintain throughout his career. He makes this comment in his autobiography, King, written with Mat Snow, about his style of defending,
I never wanted to be horrible or to commit a foul. To me, fouling an opposing striker is a sign that a defender’s been done, outsmarted. I always wanted to stay on my feet. If you turned me, I will chase back and keep coming back at you. You may outsmart me once, but probably not twice.
Ledley King – Class Act (Video)
Video by WonderWomanHQ:
A great reader of the game, King has poise and calmness on the ball and isn’t afraid to put his head where it hurts. Committed, calm, graceful, a leader by example.