The Fan's View: 'Ledley King will not slip quietly from Tottenham supporter’s thoughts'

 

‘Ledley’s gone’. They were the words we never wanted to hear. Many outside White Hart Lane had long predicted the demise of Ledley Brenton King, but to hear those words come from those within, those I stood beside on the lower banks of the South Stand, those who, we felt, knew him best, made the realisation that the end of one of Tottenham Hotspur’s greatest ever players was drawing near that much more, painstakingly, clear. We were forced to confront the reality, something we wished would never happen but knew we would have to accept one day. One distant day. Suddenly upon us.

Watching King being given the run-around by Norwich’s Anthony Pilkington and Grant Holt on that drab Easter Monday, as Tottenham’s Champions League ambitions were dealt another blow by Paul Lambert’s Canaries, was enough to break those of us of a lilywhite persuasion. The 31-year-old made two more appearances after that, defeats to Chelsea and Queen’s Park Rangers, but it was that final showing at the Lane that opened our eyes to the realisation that he had to call it a day. The knee injuries, which stemmed back to a humdrum league match at Derby just five months after his debut for the club, had finally claimed the great man.

Over his 13 years at the Lane, King had come to assume more than just ‘key player’ status at Tottenham. Ledley brought calm. Ledley brought reassurance. Ledley brought an increased chance of victory. Ledley held the backline together and helped give confidence to younger players alongside him, most notably Michael Dawson. He would make 323 appearances for the club – the poor showings of which you could count on one hand. After making his debut in a 3-2 defeat at Anfield in May 1999, it was another match the following year against Liverpool in which King really displayed his potential – played in midfield by George Graham. The maturity and poise shown by the 20-year-old that November afternoon caught the eye of many, and quickly saw him ear-marked for great things. A couple of weeks later he would score a deflected effort against Bradford City after just 10 seconds, a Premier League record that remains to this day. An England debut quickly followed, including a goal on his third appearance, a 1-1 draw in Portugal in the year they hosted the European Championship. Rio Ferdinand’s enforced absence from those finals gave King the chance to shine and his display against France in the opening group game almost helped England get off to a flier, before Zinedine Zidane dictated otherwise. King was restricted to just 21 appearances for his country, but Fabio Capello was still minded enough to include him, against most Spurs fans’ wishes, in his squad for the 2010 World Cup – where he was to last just 45 minutes of the opening game.

The displays and undoubted potential of King made the then-agonising departure of Sol Campbell to ‘them down the road’ in July 2001 that much easier to stomach. He was installed as captain and made an impression on opponents – Thierry Henry describing him as ‘the only defender who doesn’t foul and sometimes still gets the ball off my feet easily’. His only trophy at the club was the 2008 League Cup, the sight of him climbing the steps at the new stadium after leading the club to victory over Chelsea at the new Wembley a fitting tribute for all his effort. He played a key part in helping the club reach the European Cup for the first time in half a century in 2010. He was able to make just three appearances in the competition after injuring a hamstring against Fulham – a result of his inability to train regularly. Even an arrest for drunken behaviour was laughed off by most fans, just ‘Ledders enjoying himself’. The club had begun to look at long-term replacements, and the imperious recent form of Younes Kaboul, along with the recent signing of Jan Vertonghen, gave clues as to what we were to hear this morning. He is to be afforded a testimonial at the club at the end of the forthcoming season and will not slip quietly from supporter’s thoughts. The man. The legend. The King.

James Mariner is a Tottenham season ticket holder.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future