Our legend, our captain

by Back Page Football

On the 12th of October 1980 in Stepney in east London a Legend was born.

A man with integrity, resolve, determination and self-belief beyond any normal persons comprehension a man who embodies audere est facere in every cell of his body.

That man is Ledley King defined as a man by last centuries standards he is no nonsense sort of person, no fancy haircuts, 20K earrings or squiggly lines drawn on his arms he simply does his job at detriment to himself and nobody else.

His career at started at White Hart Lane as a trainee in 1996 at in today’s standards the late age of 16 but he signed as a professional a year later and made his debut at anfield in 1999.

George Graham used him as a deep lying central midfielder as a defender that could pass the ball more than ten yards didn’t happen in those days. His first goal for the club came in 2000 against Bradford a blink and you miss it type goal that still holds the record of 9.7 seconds from the kick off.

The following season he was nurtured by Glenn Hoddle into a CB and Hoddles dream of turning us into the team that he played in where we built from the back and passed teams to death was supposed to start with him. This was also the season that the man who we do not speak off moved across London placing a bigger emphasis on the need for a new leader something that did not phase Ledley proof of this was the 9th place in the league somewhat of a triumph in an era where we were pretty bad.

Injuries blighted the 2002 season and when Hoddle left in 2003 the most promising centre back we had had in years was shoved into midfield again by David Pleat and started his most successful period in front of goal. He even managed a goal on his first England start resulting in being Svens 3rd centre back.

2004 soon came round and Jaques Santini, Martin Jol and Frank Arnesen brought in a new era to the club. The work to the team we have now starts here and Ledley is our only reminder of those days where we were happy just to creep into the top half off the table.

After a fantastic season where he only missed one game in the cup Big Martin Jol appointed him captain.

This unfortunately is where the injuries start. He played less than half our games in 2006 returning for the tail end of the season and looking worse for it he returned on boxing day in 2007 for the new manager and showed how much we missed him this though was a new ledley one who was learning to adapt to not having that yard of pace he once did you could see him almost learning the game again realising that he would not only learn how to play the game all over but to limit his own willingness to get stuck in and win the ball gone were the last ditch tackles and chasing back and in stepped interceptions and an ability to read the game similar to Lothar Matthaus in that you never saw him run he just seemed to be there.

Another season passed with no real run in games and when Harry Redknapp took over in the 2008-2009 season a shift in focus for the club meant that Ledley got a routine in that he didn’t train with the club he went to the gym swam at Levy’s house and managed the injury that was now his nemesis.

The phrase Cartilage free Captain was soon applied to him with a blog under the same name soon popping up and he stepped into a new found importance under Redknapp.

Harry gave ledley a target of playing more than half the league games in 2008-2009 and he managed 24 in the league dragging spurs out of the relegation zone and setting them up for a charge at the top four again the following season.

2009-2010 we finished 4th this was helped by 20 appearances and Mr. Redknapp regularly pointed out how important to the club Ledley is. His Grit and determination pushed us through some tough games and in this season Ledley first tasted victory against Arsenal something that is hard to imagine he had played for the club ten years before doing.

The last two seasons have been a little less successful for King Ledley his presence when missing has felt less of a problem due to the signing of Gallas and the resurgence of Kaboul and Dawson as players who could lead tottenhams back line.

One day these players may lead us like Ledley with Dawson most likely as a future captain if he can step up to UCL level the way Ledley did from bottom half strugglers to title challengers but the one thing that nobody will ever get close to is the level of commitment blood, sweat and tears Ledley has given us and even now with a new manager in AVB at the age of 31 Ledley and his dodgy knees may still be offered a new contract but what is more likely is that he will join the coaching staff and be given time to get his badges etc and become an integral part of AVB’s new team.

Having only played 200 odd games in a Tottenham shirt on figures most would ask why retire the 26 shirt but the stature of the man and the severity of his struggle tell you that as with so many things in football numbers only tell you half the story.

For more Spurs-based musings, checked out Yidsnews.

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