King forced to make a stand against rumours of his demise

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The Independent Online

Such is the concern over what is said about the state of Ledley King's knee that he has employed the solicitors, and litigation specialists, Teacher Stern Selby, to threaten to sue anyone who claims that his career is over. But, nevertheless, the Tottenham captain has admitted that he may not return to fitness until next season.

Speaking in the wake of the League Cup final triumph over Chelsea, for which King said he was not "100 per cent", having barely trained with the rest of the squad in the past few weeks, the 27-year-old central defender added: "I've had problems with the knee. I've played games and after them it's been a problem. It's a tricky situation. Maybe it won't be this season but next season I will get it right. I'm not going to worry about it one bit. I want to stay with the team because I think we can win more trophies.

"I'm not 100 per cent at the moment. That's plain and simple. I've not done much training over the last month or so but once I get my knee right, and I'm not worried about it, we've got a great squad. They helped me through the game as well."

King, who had an outstanding match and once again proved his worth to Spurs, rubbished claims that he is contemplating retirement. But the admission that he may struggle to play much for the remainder of this season will cause dismay even if Spurs will be relieved that they managed to coax him through the full 120 minutes of Sunday's showpiece occasion. One concern has been the inflammation that King suffers on his knee after he has played.

Clearly the Tottenham head coach, Juande Ramos, had targeted the cup as his main priority this season and afterwards he spoke of his relief at having won, not just for the silverware – Spurs' first in nine years – but because it means the club have again qualified for the Uefa Cup. Had they lost against Chelsea, given their becalmed league position, their only other hope was to win the Uefa Cup and, even if Ramos has done that in the last two seasons with Seville, it is still a tall order.

The victory was also a vindication of Ramos's decision to put the Spurs squad through a second "pre-season" of training after he succeeded Martin Jol four months ago. He has also closely monitored their diets, with his fitness coach Marcos Alvarez criticising the players for carrying too much weight. The regime was set so the Spurs team was in prime condition for the Wembley encounter, so it will be interesting to see how they sustain the rest of their season, or whether it will peter out due to their recent exertions.

Ramos said that his regime did not prevent the players from "eating and drinking without control" at times and following Sunday's match some celebrated a little too enthusiastically at the Faces nightclub in Essex. Unfortunately for them – and King, in particular, who became involved in a scuffle after appearing to be forced to leave the club – they were snapped by the waiting paparazzi.

Although King's behaviour appeared excessive, his desire to celebrate is understandable, given what he has been through over the past two seasons. After suffering knee problems he also missed the 2006 World Cup due to a foot fracture before then having to undergo surgery last summer on his knee.

He did not make his first appearance of the season until Boxing Day and has played just seven times this season – with just 27 club appearances (plus three for England) in the last campaign, fewer than half the 59 matches Spurs were involved in. The year before he again made just 27 appearances and a further four for his country.

King said he never had Sunday's final as a "target", even if it is clear the club had nursed him towards the game. Indeed, he managed just two training sessions alongside Jonathan Woodgate before Wembley, the first time they had played together since the latter's arrival from Middlesbrough in January.

"I wasn't thinking about cup finals or any particular game. When you are injured you want to get back as soon as possible," King said. "I think you can see that we are a team that can win trophies. The Chelsea team are an experienced team who have won many trophies and know how to win games. But we showed what we can do on our day and it looks like that, from now on, we can win trophies. I always felt winning the Carling Cup was just destined to be, even when we were 1-0 down. It was just one of those feelings. I have a lot of football to come and will stay with the team."

King said that, up until now, Spurs have "not been good enough" and this first trophy win in almost a decade – they lost the League Cup final to Blackburn Rovers in 2002 – will certainly be regarded as a springboard and not least by the club's chairman, Daniel Levy. He has consistently refused to speak publicly but, not surprisingly, chose to talk after the match and indicated that the triumph justified his decision to sack Jol and replace him with Ramos.

"We have a very good manager and he has proved it by winning the final. There was no pressure on Ramos, but this is a wonderful achievement for him and the players," Levy said. "I always hoped it would come one day and we have done it. It is the best day I have had since I took over."

It was not King, Ramos or even Levy who left the stadium with the trophy under his arm, but the sporting director, Damien Comolli who has been under pressure to deliver and will also have felt a rush of satisfaction at the result.

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