the king abdicates


Ledley King retires from playing for Tottenham Hotspur

With the news coming out of White Hart Lane that Spurs skipper Ledley King had retired from playing, it was perhaps not a complete surprise, but it was an announcement that marks the end of an era.

Like Gary Mabbutt before him, Ledley had been a loyal servant to Spurs and while Mabbutt was bought in from Bristol Rovers, King came up through the ranks, knowing Tottenham Hotspur as his only club.

Both players were versatile in where they could play, gave 100% for the cause and could easily have moved on, but chose to ply their trade with Spurs, both lifting trophies during their time with the armband at the club.  But even though he perhaps knew that he might not win as much with Tottenham as he would if he moved elsewhere, Ledley stayed loyal to Spurs and for that reason, he will remain much more highly regarded than other more mercenary and more trophy hungry players how have left the club in the past.

Coming into the first team as a teenager, Ledley looked like he would be at home in the top flight and no loan spells for him to bed him in.  Calm, assured, able to play out from the back and time a tackle to perfection, King lived up to his name, as he quickly established a reputation for his solid performances.

So, when the time was right, it was no surprise that he became Spurs captain.  Not a histrionic shouter and screamer, but a true captain who lead by example.  A player that others looked up to and wanted to emulate.

Throughout his career, he has been a fantastic reader of the game and that perhaps helped him in the later stages, when his knees would not allow him to move as freely as he had done back in the day.  It was before his chronic knee problems, when he looked world class and it would not have been inconceivable that he would have become an England regular if not for a series of injuries that prevented him having a run in either the Spurs team or the England side.

How many times did the long leg extend to rob a player of a shooting opportunity ?  How often would he be positioned in exactly the right place to block a shot or intercept a pass in a dangerous looking situation ?  How often did he head the ball away when faced with taller and more physical opponents ? 

But that was not all his game, because he had been brought up to start attacks from the back and he often dribbled the ball out of the back and liked to join in with the attack.  And let us not forget that he holds the record for the quickest goal score din the Premier League at Bradford City in 2000 in just 10 seconds.

So, with Ledley replacing the unmentionable in defence, meaning we did not miss him, will we miss Ledley ?

Undoubtedly.  But he has made the right decision, as his future mobility has to be considered as well as his reputation.  Some games this season saw the pain etched on his face before he even kicked a ball. 

The fact that he will be staying with the club as an ambassador is a good move for the club and for him, but I hope that Ledders might be able to be merged into the coaching side of things, as a defensive coach, alongside Pat Jennings, Les Ferdinand and Tim Sherwood.  He would have so much to pass onto the future generations of Spurs defenders and with his natural successor looking to be Steven Caulker, it is eerie that he already has a look of Ledley about him.  The crouched stance in front of an opponent, allowing him the benefit of being able to move either way.  His calm use of the ball when in possession.  His old head on young shoulders.  And an appreciation of what is going on around him.

The King is gone.  Long live the King.

We understand his decision and appreciate the pleasure he has given us - not in the normal way for football fans, with goals normally being the currency that values a player's worth, but of some outstanding tackles, some brilliant bits of interception and some excellent overall performances.  But most of all for being there in a Spurs shirt as a constant through the 90s and 00s, despite his injury problems that robbed us of even more of Ledley's talents.

A true legend, who will be all the more respected for sticking with the club, thus elevating him head and shoulders above others who departed and that was how he was in most games ... head and shoulders above the opposition.

Marco van Hip

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