Tag Archives: pendleton

Andy Murray won"t complain about OBE

OBE The fantasy league is my goal, says Murray on back of stunning year

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UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 30 December 2012

Andy Murray would have every right to feel aggrieved for receiving ‘only’ an OBE in the New Year’s honours, but you will not find Britain’s best tennis player complaining about it — his focus is firmly on 2013, when he says his main aim, aside from winning matches, will be to retain his Fantasy Football title.

Murray’s historic 2012 included Olympic singles gold and the US Open title (the first Slam title by a British man for 76 years) in tennis’s greatest era for quality bar none, as well as being voted into third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Yet Murray’s OBE was two tiers down from the award handed to Bradley Wiggins (knighthood), a tier below the CBEs handed to Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Kath Grainger, and on the same level as up-and-coming cyclist Laura Trott and dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin.

Main man: Andy Murray was honoured with an OBE after his winning season

Main man: Andy Murray was honoured with an OBE after his winning season

More from Nick Harris…

Nick Harris: Farah and Co can push TV Superstars to a longer run
22/12/12

Nick Harris: Beckham in talks over ownership of MLS club
15/12/12

Nick Harris: Europe to fight winter World Cup plans
08/12/12

Nick Harris: 5.5bn – The staggering sum TV companies around the world will pay to screen the Premier League
24/11/12

Nick Harris: 2012 heroes miss out on Christmas books bonanza
17/11/12

Nick Harris: Another blow for Wiggins as his throne fails to sell
10/11/12

Nick Harris: Olympic chiefs told athletes to cash in and charge 10,000 for appearances
03/11/12

Nick Harris: United to top rich league again with half a billion
27/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Murray, 25, will be unruffled because his sport comes ahead of any resulting baubles, although he has already been installed as the favourite to win the SPOTY award in 2013. England cricketer Alastair Cook is second favourite in what will be Ashes year, ahead of Ennis, Farah and Chris Froome, a possible winner of the 2013 Tour de France with Team Sky.

Murray outlined his 2013 targets, including retaining the fantasy league title he contests among friends, in a debut Twitter forum hosted by football’s world governing body, FIFA.

In the same session, Sir Geoff Hurst invited Murray to watch England play football in 2013 — and Murray accepted. Murray also disclosed that ‘purely on satisfaction’ his Olympic gold meant more to him than his US Open title.

He also said that if he had not been a tennis player, his dream would have been to play football for Arsenal, rather than Hibernian, the Edinburgh team he supports.

Jess a Twitter millionairess

Jessica Ennis’s army of Twitter followers reached the one million mark on Christmas Eve, prompting the heptathlon star to tweet: ‘That’s mad! Thanks guys. I’d better start tweeting some interesting stuff.’

Golden moment: Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon at the London Games

Golden moment: Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon at the London Games

Ennis becomes only the third British Olympian to pass 1m followers after diver Tom Daley, who has 2.1m people following his tweets, and Andy Murray, with 1.33m. Mo Farah (710,000) is next closest to the tally, Sir Chris Hoy is on 430,000, Becky Adlington has 311,000, Victoria Pendleton attracts 237,000 and gymnast — and ‘Strictly’ winner — Louis Smith is on 195,000.

These numbers are dwarfed by Britain’s best-followed footballers Wayne Rooney (5.5m) and Rio Ferdinand (3.7m).

Mum Julie flies to Crowe’s nest

Four Yorkshire brothers, who have all been signed to play for the Sydney-based rugby league club owned by film star Russell Crowe, will celebrate the New Year as a family after their mother, Julie, flew to Australia to begin a new life Down Under with them last week.

England and Great Britain international Sam Burgess, 24, as well as older brother Luke, 25, and twin siblings George and Tom, 20, have been signed by the South Sydney Rabbitohs, owned by Crowe, 48, since 2006.

Helping hand: Russell Crowe

Helping hand: Russell Crowe

Widowed Julie has been a friend of Crowe’s since the club signed Sam in 2009, with the other brothers following. ‘He’s always very hospitable and looks after the boys. He loves being part of our family, he likes to look after us,’ said Ms Burgess earlier this year.

Once in Sydney, she tweeted: ‘Hello Australia! I’ve arrived and couldn’t be happier!’

Sam Burgess has played down suggestions of a romance between Crowe, who recently split from his wife, and his mother, insisting they are ‘just mates’.

BT warned

Sunset+Vine, the award-winning company who have bagged the contract to produce the live sports programming for BT’s new sports channel, including Premier League games from summer 2013, will face financial penalties in the event of any broadcasting cock-ups, say sources.

BT are desperate for their new content to be perfect and a schedule of fines is aimed at making sure there are no bloopers like the one made by ITV during the 2010 World Cup, when viewers missed Steven Gerrard’s goal for England against the United States because of an advert break. BT declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Jake Humphrey’s appointment to front BT’s Premier League coverage has led to joy for petrolhead pin-up Suzi Perry. The 42-year-old presenter will replace Humphrey as the face of BBC1’s Formula One coverage. Gary Lineker is among those who tweeted his congratulations, saying: ‘Great choice, she’ll be brilliant.’

BBC clarify decision to hand Team GB and Paralympics GB Team of Year award

BBC clarify decision to hand Team GB and Paralympics GB Team of Year award

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UPDATED:

16:17 GMT, 17 December 2012

The BBC have moved to clarify the thinking behind naming Britain's Olympians and Paralympians collectively as their Team of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards on Sunday night.

Last week, explaining the nomination process, the BBC had stated: 'For the avoidance of doubt this criteria excludes Team GB/Paralympics GB but includes the likes of British Cycling, Rowing Coxless Four and the European Ryder Cup team.'

So when Team GB and Paralympics GB were named as Team of the Year there was understandably confusion at the ExCel Arena and in the living rooms of people watching at home on Sunday night.

Team effort: Victoria Pendleton and Jonnie Peacock picked up the award

Team effort: Victoria Pendleton and Jonnie Peacock picked up the award

Accumulator bets were ruined and many felt that the triumphant European Ryder Cup team were more worthy of the award, but the BBC decided that the success of Britain’s athletes at London 2012 was worth breaking their own rules for.

'The panel had the right to amend the criteria of the awards where there was unanimous agreement to do so,’ a statement read on Monday.

'The panel agreed that it was impossible to split the achievements of Team GB and Paralympics GB into individual disciplines in such a year of triumph and history making, and hence the criteria for the Team of the year was amended accordingly.’

Miracle of Medinah: The Europeans were heavily backed to win team prize

Miracle of Medinah: The Europeans were heavily backed to win team prize

Laura Williamson: Dangerous message that strong isn"t sexy for women

Laura Williamson: Dangerous
message that strong isn't sexy

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 18 November 2012

Regal: Zara Phillips

Regal: Zara Phillips

I read this week that having a 'strong, athletic body' is a 'problem' for a young woman. Apparently, you cannot wear 'dressy-up clothes' if you happen to have 'powerful thighs'.

An Olympic medal is all well and good but you will look 'lumpy and bumpy' in anything vaguely fashionable, so better stick to the baggy tracksuit bottoms, love.

The woman in question was a member of
Team GB at what cyclist Victoria Pendleton called a 'Games for the
girls' just three months ago. It was Zara Phillips, still arguably the
Queen's grand-daughter first and sportswoman second – despite what she
has achieved on a horse – but a successful athlete, nevertheless.

The
pictures of Phillips were certainly unflattering – primarily, I
suspect, because she does not give a hoot what she looks like unless it
wins her a few extra marks in competition – but it was the message that
was more concerning. It came across loud and clear: sporty is not
attractive. Nobody is going to fancy you for being faster, higher or
stronger – unless you look good in 'dressy-up clothes'.

What a lot of damaging, dangerous drivel. Is it any wonder, then, that 48 per cent of girls surveyed by the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough said that getting sweaty is 'not feminine' If athletic is not attractive, presumably it's much better to sit at home watching vacuous, made-up dolly birds on reality TV while developing an unhealthy relationship with carbohydrates owing to the pressure to be skinny Of course it is not.

Go out and get muddy or bop about at an aerobics class. I would point to examples such as Jessica Ennis and Keri-Anne Payne, who have graced billboards and the covers of glossy magazines, to prove that sporty can be attractive, but the point is much wider than that.

Cover girl: Jessica Ennis

Cover girl: Jessica Ennis

We are following a perilous path if we continue to evaluate our sportswomen in terms of the way they look and not what they have achieved. The word 'femininity', even in the rare instances it is applied to sport, still conjures up images of a delicate gymnast or a waif-like tennis player. But what about women who compete in disciplines that require power and body mass for them to succeed Why are they still not seen as feminine, womanly or girlie

Surely it is the gold medal hanging around their neck that makes them beautiful, not how they might look in a slinky evening dress. Having a 'strong, athletic body' might mean you make different choices about what to wear when you get dressed up, but it is certainly not a 'problem'.

Quite the opposite, in fact: it is something to be celebrated and to strive towards. I told a white lie earlier when I said I just 'read' those hurtful words. It was not a passive experience; I recoiled at them. And then I did what I normally do when I feel angry: I went for a run. Those 'problematic' thighs come in handy now and again, thank you very much.

What they said…

It's the time of year when students email asking for interviews for their dissertations about 'being a woman in sport'. I try to help where I can, but I could not stomach a study entitled: 'Covering the big men's sports might be the glory job, but it's no fun for a woman.' Yes it is – it's great fun. You just need a sat nav, caffeine, thermals and a thick skin sometimes.

And this is what I have been doing this week

Regretting breaking my usual habit of recording Match of the Day to watch on Sunday morning with the help of the fastforward button as the 'analysis' reached a new low. I want extra insight, not just someone talking me through what has happened. Vincent Kompany is clearly an intelligent footballer but he is also a current one: he had no choice other than to be diplomatic and cannot have had enough time after Manchester City's victory over Aston Villa to watch all the games properly. Quite what Alan Hansen's excuse is, however, I'm really not sure.

Watching AFC Wimbledon against York City last week, where we were so close to the pitch you could hear the players talking to each other and arguing with the 'lino'. One player swore and got ticked off by a fan, who shouted: 'Language!' The player said 'sorry' straight away.

Welcome news: Billy Sharp and Jade

Welcome news: Billy Sharp and Jade

When I interviewed striker Billy Sharp and his partner, Jade, about the loss of their son, Luey, it was one of the hardest interviews I have ever done. But, among the sadness, there was hope, too. Jade is pregnant again. The couple are expecting a son in four weeks' time. Last Wednesday in Doncaster they held a charity dinner for the LJS Foundation (www. ljsfoundation.org.uk), to raise awareness of gastroschisis, the condition with which Luey was born prematurely. It was a sell-out, with Sharps' old and current team-mates mingling with Doncaster Rovers fans who just wanted to support their former striker. Football often gets a hard time but it still has a capacity to make you smile.

Statistic of the week

It is 10 years this week since the England women's football team lost a qualifying fixture for a major tournament. That's 25 wins and seven draws, 105 goals scored and just 10 conceded, to give England a place at two World Cups and three European Championships – including next summer's tournament in Sweden. Perhaps 'playing like a girl' is not such a bad thing, after all.

2012 heroes miss out on Christmas books bonanza

2012 heroes miss out on Christmas books bonanza

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 17 November 2012

The biggest British stars of the summer's Olympics are capitalising on their Games glory with autobiographies aimed at the lucrative Christmas market – but the giants of the Paralympics are missing out after failing to anticipate a booming demand for their own inspirational stories.

Olympic gold medal winners Bradley Wiggins, Jess Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Mo Farah and Chris Hoy have all got new or updated books on the shelves or in production, and hope to spend the festive season revelling in the fruits of their literary labours.

2012 star: David Weir

Missing out: Four-time 2012 gold winner David Weir

But no books are expected soon, certainly not this year, by arguably the three stand-out stars of the Paralympics: four-times 2012 gold winner David Weir, double gold-winning swimmer Ellie Simmonds, 18, and Jonnie Peacock, 19, who became a megastar in the T44 100 metres.

Simmonds' spokesman, Adam Wheatley, said no book had been planned because 'we didn't want to pre-empt success or apply any additional pressure to have a publisher writing copy during training and getting pictures pre-Olympics.'

He added that talks are on-going with publishers but 'we were very conscious not to trot a book out just for the Christmas market, it has to be right'.

Peacock's name was chanted by 80,000 fans in the Olympic Stadium before winning a final in which he left Paralympic legend Oscar Pistorius in his wake and eventually fourth. His agent, Lu Napthine, said there are 'no concrete plans' for a book, but his advisers are 'keen to capitalise on the interest in Jonnie at the moment on the back of the Paralympics'.

Easy rider: Wiggins leaving his home in the village of Eccleston in Lancashire on Friday morning

Covered: Gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins

Weir is expected to tell his own compelling story in an autobiography ghosted by the BBC's highly respected sports editor David Bond, although one source concedes that better planning and a realisation that the Paralympics were going to be such a hit might have led to swifter publication.

'Some publishers say these books should be out now, in 2012, and might miss their moment,' said one publishing source.

Another, veteran literary agent David Luxton, who has worked on autobiographies by Jenson Button, Mark Cavendish, Fernando Torres and Robbie Fowler among others, said: 'If books are brought out next year, it is quite likely that there will be other elements to the stories because they will have moved on with their careers and lives that will make it a good read and strong selling point.'

A new poll of 1,200 people conducted by StreetGames, a charity that promotes sport for young people in deprived communities, cements the notion that both summer Games gripped the nation equally, finding that the five most inspirational athletes of the summer to young people were Ennis, Simmonds, Farah, Pendleton and Peacock.

Premiership clubs are accused of docking England players' wages

Some of England's leading Premiership rugby clubs stand accused of 'morally abhorrent' behaviour for issuing contracts that see players docked up to half of their weekly salaries (as much as 2,500 in some cases) for playing for England.

Europe's top clubs were last week heavily criticised for allegedly blackmailing players from Fiji and other Pacific nations to turn their backs on Test rugby in order to bolster their clubs' league hopes on international weekends.

Now Inside Sport has learned that despite being financially rewarded by the RFU for producing home-grown talent, top Premiership clubs are understood to dock player's wages if they miss a first-team fixture in order to play for their country.

The practice is a clear breach of International Rugby Board Regulation 9.3, which states: 'No union, association, rugby body or club, whether by contract, conduct or otherwise, may inhibit, prevent, discourage, dis-incentivise or render unavailable any player from selection, attendance and appearance in a national representative team or national squad session.'

England players receive up to 15,000 in national appearance fees but Rugby Players' Association chief executive Damian Hopley insists the practice of reducing club salaries remains a serious blight on the game.

'It is something we have taken up with all parties because we don't think it is fair,' he said.

'It is immoral to penalise a player for reaching his potential in international sport … morally it is abhorrent. … there are three clubs that we know currently practise it.

'It is disappointing and we are working as hard as possible to put an end to it.'

Veteran former BBC commentator Clive Everton was the 'voice of snooker' during the golden age of the baize in the Eighties when up to 18.5million watched the world finals.

But in a new book that also details his demise at the Beeb, where he was axed from regular slots in 2009, he claims 'the first clear sign of trouble' arrived in 2006 when he wrote 'an accurate but unflattering profile' of Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards, who had been drafted on to snooker's ruling body.

Everton says this upset acquaintances of Richards, who worked for the independent firm that produced the BBC's coverage, and his position was shaky from that point onwards. Sir Dave did not respond to requests for a comment.

David Haye boxing clever and Helen Flanagan a real soap star in I"m A Celebrity

Haye boxing clever and Bristow on target as Flanagan proves she's a true soap star

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UPDATED:

09:25 GMT, 12 November 2012

I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Stick with Sportsmail Online for daily updates about what is happening in the jungle

Even now, after 10 series of ITV's I'm A Celebrity… Get me Out Of Here, there may still be a few people out there wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to spend up to three weeks in the garden feature from hell

True, in some (okay, perhaps many) cases, the answer is in that question. But that is surely not the whole truth.

After all, if you were going to not wash for days, eat animals' unmentionables and make small talk with someone from a reality show that you've never heard of, would you want to do it under the unblinking gaze of the British telly-viewing public

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

More from Mark Webster…

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Edge of the Box: Strictly speaking, I bet Vaughan, Pendleton and Smith look good on the dancefloor
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Edge of the Box: Blown away by a Ryder Cup cracker in the windy city
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Edge of the Box: Britain's champions looking to win hearts before a contest of a very different kind
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Okay, once again a lot of the answer is in the question, but there is also some method in that madness.

The perfect reminder of that was live on ITV on Friday when Phil Tufnell appeared on a special I'm A Celebrity… Who Wants To be A Millionaire.

Sitting alongside fellow 'King' Joe Pasquale, the current One Show reporter and Question Of Sport captain told Chris Tarrant he'd been at the US Embassy until four in the morning for the Presidential election.

'It was a good party. Last to leave as usual', laughed the irrepressible Tuffers, but do you imagine any of that would have happened if his biggest claim to fame had been a seven for 42 against Leicestershire at Grace Road, rather than becoming King Phil in 2003

No, for those few of you who hadn't noticed, I'm A Celebrity is a golden ticket to a whole new kind of fame and the sport folks competing to be this year's Charlie in the Chocolate Factory are David Haye and Eric Bristow; with affiliated support – and almost certainly, more shower scenes – coming from Scott Sinclair's actress girlfriend Helen Flanagan.

And it didn't take long for the two Londoners who usually let their fists do the talking – obviously, In Eric's case, while clenching his tungstens – to tell us why they have both excelled in their respective sports.

'I usually deal with confrontation with a right hook. I can be cocky. Arrogant. And I have a phobia of losing,' the Hayemaker informed us, clearly deciding that the Christopher Biggins approach to jungle glory was not for him.

Mind you, The Crafty Cockney was just as bullish.

'I fear nothing. I'm arrogant. Confident. You like me or you don't. Whatever it takes, I'll do it', he told us.

Clearly our superstar d'artist believes a good game of killer is just as much fun away from the oche.

Of the two, the south London heavyweight champ earned early bragging rights when his team won the helicopter ride in to their camp.

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Eric's team contained former Time Lard Colin Baker, who couldn't escape a dalek with a flat tyre these days, which meant they got an actual, as well as metaphorical, sinking ship to arrive by.

Of the initial challenges though, it was Helen who got the first serious welcome to the jungle for our sports folks.

Taking on a rope bridge across a ravine, Helen told us 'this is the most scared, like, ever' she's ever, like, been as she set out on her precarious endeavour.

Then many tears, a possible throw up and 47,000 'oh my Gods' later, she was across!

It took less than a couple of minutes to watch. However, judging by the changing light and the fact Brian Conley had grown a beard since she set out on her quest, it may have actually taken a tad longer.

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

As ever, presiding over the fun, fear and frolics are Ant & Dec who remain the sharpest, most endearing talents in light entertainment.

These two are the barometer of the series, judging perfectly where to go with the humour, the angst, the drama and the melodrama.

They welcomed David to the first Bushtucker trial of the series, competing against one Hugo Taylor from Made In Chelsea, who very quickly realised he wasn't in the Kings Road any more.

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity...

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity…

'That took real endurance and strength' said Ant in the pouring rain.

'Telling me. Nearly forty minutes we had to hold that umbrella up' deadpanned back Dec as Haye came out the resounding, and not entirely unexpected winner.

So for the first few nights, we'll be watching Team David versus Team Eric, which at the moment is looking like Barcelona against Billericay.

But obviously it's still early days, so join me here every morning to find out just how the jungle is rumbling.

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

Ledley King interview – on Tottenham and his injuries

Spurs legend King reveals how his knee injury turned him into a man alone

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UPDATED:

08:08 GMT, 15 October 2012

Ledley King slips between the ropes and skips into the centre of the ring as young boxers with eyes shining bright line up to pummel the pads on his hands.

‘Go easy on me,’ King grins. He blows out his cheeks and shakes his arms to loosen the muscles.

This is the new day job for the former Tottenham captain and five months after his retirement from football, he seems at ease, happy in fact.

Contribution: Ledley King helps build links in Tottenham

Contribution: Ledley King helps build links in Tottenham

Happy to be helping young people in his adopted community around White Hart Lane; happy to have extended his connection with Spurs and happy to have bid farewell to a lonely training regime.

Most ex-players pine for the dressing room and the banter but for King it has not been like that for many years. The training ground meant exercise bikes and solitary pool sessions, not five-a-side games and practical jokes.

‘It wasn’t something I loved doing,’ said King. ‘I did my work inside to be able to play at the weekend. It could be tough on your own. No footballer enjoys being in the gym.

‘When it came to retiring, the fact I wasn’t able to train every day made things easier. It was more difficult two or three years back when I wasn’t able to train and was constantly breaking down with injuries. That was the most difficult time. That’s made it easier for me to make this transition.’

There are echoes here of Victoria Pendleton, the Olympic cyclist who rejoiced in the freedom of retirement after this year’s London Games, except King’s memories will forever carry a hint of what could have been.

Those who remember him as a young player growing up in east London recall traces of Bobby Moore, yet King, 32, won only 21 England caps.

His was a career defined by a damaged left knee.

‘I’ll probably always think about what might have happened without the injuries,’ said King.

‘When my knee started coming up I was 25 or 26 and was starting to feel I had a good understanding of the game and my position and could go from strength to strength.

‘I had to deal with the injury and do what I could to keep my career going. I’ll look back and realise I gave it everything I could to try to perform but it was difficult.

Limited: King made relatively few international appearances

Limited: King made relatively few international appearances

Ledley's picks

‘There was a lot of self-motivation involved, talking to myself. I knew my fitness levels were so low compared with those I was playing against. I had to trick myself into believing it wasn’t about that. I’d tell myself, “This is a football game, use your brains, use your intelligence”. That’s the way I started to defend.

‘There wasn’t really any pain. It was more of a restriction. I couldn’t bend the knee past 90 degrees and that would limit what I could do.

‘I didn’t like to go to ground because if my knee bent and jolted up that was really uncomfortable. I was never much of a diver-in but you just learn to survive. You find a way. You don’t cheat, but you do what you can to survive.

‘Some days it would feel OK and some days it would feel terrible. Some days I’d not train for the whole week and I’d go out the day before a game and it felt no good.

‘I’d say, “Tomorrow’s another day. I’ll try again”. There wasn’t a time when I’d walk past someone in the street without them asking how my knee was. It was all about the knee. It was difficult to get away from that.’

He is grateful for Harry Redknapp’s understanding and faith. Redknapp would wait for King to turn his thumb up or down on the eve of a game. Working this way, King played until he was 31. He will go down as a Spurs great in a progressive era, despite playing, on average, fewer than 25 games a season during the 13 years after his 1999 debut at Liverpool.

‘When I was 23 and made captain I felt
like it was my team and my responsibility to take it on,’ he said. ‘I
never felt like I needed to move. I thought we were going places. I
think we still are. Two fifth places under Martin Jol; two fourth places
under Harry.’

The Carling
Cup win in 2008 is his favourite moment, along with fond memories of
emphatic semi-final victories against Arsenal (2008) and Chelsea (2002).

He led Tottenham into the Champions
League for the first time too, but it was soured by his inability to
feature in classic European clashes with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Real
Madrid.

No consistency: King could not play with any regularity

No consistency: King could not play with any regularity

His eight-year England career included Euro 2004 and South Africa 2010. The World Cup finals ought to have been the pinnacle but came, with sad inevitability, to a premature end when he tore a muscle just a few minutes into the first game against the United States in Rustenburg and had to go off at half-time.

‘One of the toughest things was that I wasn’t training and my muscles would keep breaking down: hamstring tears and groins,’ said King. ‘Fabio Capello had wanted me to link up with England but I never felt fit enough. I wanted to put a long run of games together before I could even think about it.

‘Too many times, after three or four games, I’d feel something and break down and have to start again. But before the end of that season, I played a run of games and my form was good.

Effort: King worked hard to improve his fitness

Effort: King worked hard to improve his fitness

‘When he asked me if I wanted to go to the World Cup, I felt good. I felt the time was right.

‘To break down again was a feeling that’s hard to describe.

‘Five minutes into the game I felt my groin go. I couldn’t actually face bringing myself off. I was embarrassed.

‘So I struggled through to half-time.
No-one really tested me. No-one ran me. It could have been one more run
and I’d have been totally on the floor.

‘I was just cheating out there, getting by. At half-time, they looked at it and there was clearly a tear. I was devastated.’

King
worked around the clock in an effort to rekindle the dream. He was
declared fit and on the bench as England crashed out against Germany in
Bloemfontein.

‘It would have
been nice to have had a run in a top tournament and shown what I could
do for England,’ King added. After his retirement, John Terry’s
decision to stop playing for England and Rio Ferdinand being out of
favour, 2012 has become a watershed for central defenders in this
country.

The race is on to be the next generation.
King is impressed with Gary Cahill and Steven Caulker but warned: ‘It
takes a while for any defender to be recognised as a top defender and,
in the next two or three years, we’ll get to see who is.

‘As a defender, you’re continually learning. You will make mistakes because that is the nature of the position and they will cost you goals. It’s a question of how quickly you eliminate them.

‘When Younes Kaboul came to Spurs he had everything, but he just needed to play and learn, get his head around what it takes to be a top defender. Now he’s one of the best.

‘Sometimes you can do too much.
Sometimes, for a centre half, less is best. You win the ball and you
keep it simple. Some players win the ball and want to run out with it
when there’s a pass on and they lose the ball. It’s just something you
learn as you grow up.

Building: King with then-Spurs manager Harry Redknapp

Building: King with then-Spurs manager Harry Redknapp

King gets subbed

‘It’s nice to have ability, but what makes you a player is learning when to do it and when you can get away with it. That marks you out as a top defender, it’s the decisions. That’s what defence is about — when to do it and when not to do it.’

King accepts his understanding of his position may have been accelerated by his physical limitations.

‘My injuries stopped me going forward,’ he said. ‘I remember doing it in the first leg of the semi-final against Arsenal in the year we won the Carling Cup. I got the ball, played it and continued the run.

‘I almost got played in and my legs turned to jelly. I’d run 60 metres and there were 85 minutes left. I had to learn to reserve my energy for the defending.’

His high standards started to slip last season, however, and the left knee worsened after a training-ground collision. More summer surgery beckoned and so did retirement.

‘I didn’t make the decision but during the second half of the season I was struggling,’ said King. ‘They went in and looked at the knee. The surgeon didn’t think I’d be able to get it back to how it was. Halfway through last season it was difficult. It felt different.

Last stand: King in one of his final Spurs games, the 2012 FA Cup semi final

Last stand: King in one of his final Spurs games, the 2012 FA Cup semi final

‘I reassessed it and that’s how I came to the decision. It felt like the right time.’ King may yet embark on getting coaching qualifications, but has stepped straight into an ambassadorial role at Tottenham with lots of community involvement.

He helped revive the derelict youth centre on White Hart Lane, which now carries his image, and is a regular visitor, mingling with the youngsters who use the facilities.

‘I’m still working with the club and there’s plenty for me to get stuck into around the community, with the Foundation,’ said King.

‘I’m getting used to something different. I’m hoping to grow into it after playing football my whole life. Some players come out of the game and have nothing but I am motivated. This gives me responsibility.’

There are no plans for a Paul Scholes-style comeback, but he does look super-lean. ‘To be honest, I actually feel like I could play a game in a week,’ he said. ‘I got used to that, doing nothing and then going out to play.’

The idea flickers and then fades. ‘I’d probably be awful,’ he smiles.

Back to the day job.

Ledley King has given his backing to Skills, a Tottenham Hotspur Foundation project providing sporting and educational opportunities for young people in Haringey.

Ledley King interview: Tottenham defender"s knee injury forced him to be excluded from training, Harry Redknapp had to make allowances with team…

The King's speech: Ledley reveals how his knee injury turned him into a man alone

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 14 October 2012

Ledley King slips between the ropes and skips into the centre of the ring as young boxers with eyes shining bright line up to pummel the pads on his hands.

‘Go easy on me,’ King grins. He blows out his cheeks and shakes his arms to loosen the muscles.

This is the new day job for the former Tottenham captain and five months after his retirement from football, he seems at ease, happy in fact.

Contribution: Ledley King helps build links in Tottenham

Contribution: Ledley King helps build links in Tottenham

Happy to be helping young people in his adopted community around White Hart Lane; happy to have extended his connection with Spurs and happy to have bid farewell to a lonely training regime.

Most ex-players pine for the dressing room and the banter but for King it has not been like that for many years. The training ground meant exercise bikes and solitary pool sessions, not five-a-side games and practical jokes.

‘It wasn’t something I loved doing,’ said King. ‘I did my work inside to be able to play at the weekend. It could be tough on your own. No footballer enjoys being in the gym.

‘When it came to retiring, the fact I wasn’t able to train every day made things easier. It was more difficult two or three years back when I wasn’t able to train and was constantly breaking down with injuries. That was the most difficult time. That’s made it easier for me to make this transition.’

There are echoes here of Victoria Pendleton, the Olympic cyclist who rejoiced in the freedom of retirement after this year’s London Games, except King’s memories will forever carry a hint of what could have been.

Those who remember him as a young player growing up in east London recall traces of Bobby Moore, yet King, 32, won only 21 England caps.

His was a career defined by a damaged left knee.

‘I’ll probably always think about what might have happened without the injuries,’ said King.

‘When my knee started coming up I was 25 or 26 and was starting to feel I had a good understanding of the game and my position and could go from strength to strength.

‘I had to deal with the injury and do what I could to keep my career going. I’ll look back and realise I gave it everything I could to try to perform but it was difficult.

Limited: King made relatively few international appearances

Limited: King made relatively few international appearances

Ledley's picks

‘There was a lot of self-motivation involved, talking to myself. I knew my fitness levels were so low compared with those I was playing against. I had to trick myself into believing it wasn’t about that. I’d tell myself, “This is a football game, use your brains, use your intelligence”. That’s the way I started to defend.

‘There wasn’t really any pain. It was more of a restriction. I couldn’t bend the knee past 90 degrees and that would limit what I could do.

‘I didn’t like to go to ground because if my knee bent and jolted up that was really uncomfortable. I was never much of a diver-in but you just learn to survive. You find a way. You don’t cheat, but you do what you can to survive.

‘Some days it would feel OK and some days it would feel terrible. Some days I’d not train for the whole week and I’d go out the day before a game and it felt no good.

‘I’d say, “Tomorrow’s another day. I’ll try again”. There wasn’t a time when I’d walk past someone in the street without them asking how my knee was. It was all about the knee. It was difficult to get away from that.’

He is grateful for Harry Redknapp’s understanding and faith. Redknapp would wait for King to turn his thumb up or down on the eve of a game. Working this way, King played until he was 31. He will go down as a Spurs great in a progressive era, despite playing, on average, fewer than 25 games a season during the 13 years after his 1999 debut at Liverpool.

‘When I was 23 and made captain I felt
like it was my team and my responsibility to take it on,’ he said. ‘I
never felt like I needed to move. I thought we were going places. I
think we still are. Two fifth places under Martin Jol; two fourth places
under Harry.’

The Carling
Cup win in 2008 is his favourite moment, along with fond memories of
emphatic semi-final victories against Arsenal (2008) and Chelsea (2002).

He led Tottenham into the Champions
League for the first time too, but it was soured by his inability to
feature in classic European clashes with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Real
Madrid.

No consistency: King could not play with any regularity

No consistency: King could not play with any regularity

His eight-year England career included Euro 2004 and South Africa 2010. The World Cup finals ought to have been the pinnacle but came, with sad inevitability, to a premature end when he tore a muscle just a few minutes into the first game against the United States in Rustenburg and had to go off at half-time.

‘One of the toughest things was that I wasn’t training and my muscles would keep breaking down: hamstring tears and groins,’ said King. ‘Fabio Capello had wanted me to link up with England but I never felt fit enough. I wanted to put a long run of games together before I could even think about it.

‘Too many times, after three or four games, I’d feel something and break down and have to start again. But before the end of that season, I played a run of games and my form was good.

Effort: King worked hard to improve his fitness

Effort: King worked hard to improve his fitness

‘When he asked me if I wanted to go to the World Cup, I felt good. I felt the time was right.

‘To break down again was a feeling that’s hard to describe.

‘Five minutes into the game I felt my groin go. I couldn’t actually face bringing myself off. I was embarrassed.

‘So I struggled through to half-time.
No-one really tested me. No-one ran me. It could have been one more run
and I’d have been totally on the floor.

‘I was just cheating out there, getting by. At half-time, they looked at it and there was clearly a tear. I was devastated.’

King
worked around the clock in an effort to rekindle the dream. He was
declared fit and on the bench as England crashed out against Germany in
Bloemfontein.

‘It would have
been nice to have had a run in a top tournament and shown what I could
do for England,’ King added. After his retirement, John Terry’s
decision to stop playing for England and Rio Ferdinand being out of
favour, 2012 has become a watershed for central defenders in this
country.

The race is on to be the next generation.
King is impressed with Gary Cahill and Steven Caulker but warned: ‘It
takes a while for any defender to be recognised as a top defender and,
in the next two or three years, we’ll get to see who is.

‘As a defender, you’re continually learning. You will make mistakes because that is the nature of the position and they will cost you goals. It’s a question of how quickly you eliminate them.

‘When Younes Kaboul came to Spurs he had everything, but he just needed to play and learn, get his head around what it takes to be a top defender. Now he’s one of the best.

‘Sometimes you can do too much.
Sometimes, for a centre half, less is best. You win the ball and you
keep it simple. Some players win the ball and want to run out with it
when there’s a pass on and they lose the ball. It’s just something you
learn as you grow up.

Building: King with then-Spurs manager Harry Redknapp

Building: King with then-Spurs manager Harry Redknapp

King gets subbed

‘It’s nice to have ability, but what makes you a player is learning when to do it and when you can get away with it. That marks you out as a top defender, it’s the decisions. That’s what defence is about — when to do it and when not to do it.’

King accepts his understanding of his position may have been accelerated by his physical limitations.

‘My injuries stopped me going forward,’ he said. ‘I remember doing it in the first leg of the semi-final against Arsenal in the year we won the Carling Cup. I got the ball, played it and continued the run.

‘I almost got played in and my legs turned to jelly. I’d run 60 metres and there were 85 minutes left. I had to learn to reserve my energy for the defending.’

His high standards started to slip last season, however, and the left knee worsened after a training-ground collision. More summer surgery beckoned and so did retirement.

‘I didn’t make the decision but during the second half of the season I was struggling,’ said King. ‘They went in and looked at the knee. The surgeon didn’t think I’d be able to get it back to how it was. Halfway through last season it was difficult. It felt different.

Last stand: King in one of his final Spurs games, the 2012 FA Cup semi final

Last stand: King in one of his final Spurs games, the 2012 FA Cup semi final

‘I reassessed it and that’s how I came to the decision. It felt like the right time.’ King may yet embark on getting coaching qualifications, but has stepped straight into an ambassadorial role at Tottenham with lots of community involvement.

He helped revive the derelict youth centre on White Hart Lane, which now carries his image, and is a regular visitor, mingling with the youngsters who use the facilities.

‘I’m still working with the club and there’s plenty for me to get stuck into around the community, with the Foundation,’ said King.

‘I’m getting used to something different. I’m hoping to grow into it after playing football my whole life. Some players come out of the game and have nothing but I am motivated. This gives me responsibility.’

There are no plans for a Paul Scholes-style comeback, but he does look super-lean. ‘To be honest, I actually feel like I could play a game in a week,’ he said. ‘I got used to that, doing nothing and then going out to play.’

The idea flickers and then fades. ‘I’d probably be awful,’ he smiles.

Back to the day job.

Ledley King has given his backing to Skills, a Tottenham Hotspur Foundation project providing sporting and educational opportunities for young people in Haringey.

Andy Murray, Amir Khan and Victoria Pendleton at London Fashion Week

Murray, Khan, Pendleton and more swap sport for style at London Fashion Week

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UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 18 September 2012

Forget about training for a while – it seems like the Burberry Prorsum's London Fashion Week show was the place to be for some of Britain's top sports stars on Monday.

US Open winner and Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray left his racquet behind as he was given a front row seat with his girlfriend Kim Sears at London's Kensington gardens.

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Doubles: Andy Murray and Kim Sears swapped the tennis court for the catwalk as they attended Burberry Prorsum's London Fashion Week show

Doubles: Andy Murray and Kim Sears swapped the tennis court for the catwalk as they attended Burberry Prorsum's London Fashion Week show

The Scottish tennis star was not the
only Olympic star spotted at the event. Boxing star Amir Khan, who won
silver in Athens in 2004 and Victoria Pendleton who retired after the
2012 Games were also present.

Khan was in attendance with his fiance,
Faryal Makhdoom. The boxer has recently split from his coach Freddie
Roach after defeats to Lamont Petersen and Danny Garcia but was clearly in a light-hearted mood as he enjoyed some downtime.

Amir Khan and fiancee Faryal Makhdoom

Amir Khan and fiancee Faryal Makhdoom

Checking in: Amir Khan and fiancee Faryal Makhdoom also attended the show

Pendleton, meanwhile, took some time out from her Strictly Come Dancing
training to make an appearance at the show. She has been partnered with
ballroom dancer Brendan Cole in the BBC programme.

The former Olympic cyclist bowed out after winning gold in the women's keirin in August.

The look of love: The couple couldn't take their eyes off each other as they cuddled up on the white carpet at London's Kensington Gardens

The look of love: The couple couldn't take their eyes off each other as they cuddled up on the white carpet at London's Kensington Gardens

Stroll: Murray and Sears walk on the white carpet at London's Kensington Gardens

The best seats in the house: The US Open champion and his girlfriend were given coveted front-row seats alongside US Vogue editor Anna Wintour

The best seats in the house: The US Open champion and his girlfriend were given coveted front-row seats alongside US Vogue editor Anna Wintour

Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and Olympic rower Pete Reed also showed up, both having won golds in the summer.

The former picked up his medal in the T44 100m sprint and the latter in
the men's coxless fours, a category he also won gold in four years
before, in Beijing.

Strictly stylish: Cycling champion Victoria Pendleton also took a break from her Strictly Come Dancing training to attend the Burberry Prorsum event

Strictly stylish: Cycling champion Victoria Pendleton also took a break from her Strictly Come Dancing training to attend the Burberry Prorsum event

Strictly stylish: Cycling champion Victoria Pendleton took a break from her Strictly Come Dancing training

Front row viewing: Jonnie Peacock (third left) next to Pendleton

Front row viewing: Jonnie Peacock (third left) next to Pendleton

Bet you want these: Pete Reed with his prized possessions and girlfriend Frauke

Bet you want these: Pete Reed with his prized possessions and girlfriend Frauke

VIDEO: Victoria and Andy swap training for fashion…

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Sportsmail"s golden Olympics: Andy Hooper and Graham Chadwick showcase their top snaps

Sportsmail's golden Olympics: Andy Hooper and Graham Chadwick showcase their top snaps

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UPDATED:

21:10 GMT, 13 August 2012

Whether the action was on land or water, indoors or in the great outdoors, our award-winning photographers were on hand to capture the action.

Andy Hooper and Graham Chadwick pick their favourite images from a pulsating 16 days of Olympic sport.

Image of the Games: Andy Hooper chose his capture of an astonished Katherine Copeland and her partner Sophie Hosking as his shot of the Games. Nikon D3; 400mm lens with 1.4 converter. ISO 200, 1/1,000s @ f4

Image of the Games: Andy Hooper chose his capture of an astonished
Katherine Copeland and her partner Sophie Hosking as his shot of the Games. Nikon D3; 400mm lens with 1.4 converter. ISO 200, 1/1,000s @ f4

Top snap: Graham Chadwick picked his stunning picture of Jade Jones jumping on her coach after winning gold in the taekwondo. Nikon D3; 200mm lens. ISO 1600, 1/1,000s @ f2.8. Graham also captured Anthony Joshua's golden moment (right)

Gold: Joshua

Top snap: Graham Chadwick picked his stunning picture of Jade Jones jumping on her coach after winning gold in the taekwondo. Nikon D3; 200mm lens. ISO 1600, 1/1,000s @ f2.8. Graham also captured Anthony Joshua's golden moment (right)

Warming up: Victoria Pendleton gets on the rollers before the women's sprint

Warming up: Victoria Pendleton gets on the rollers before the women's sprint

Doubling up: Andy Hooper snapped Mo Farah claiming his second gold of the Games in the 5,000m

Doubling up: Andy Hooper snapped Mo Farah claiming his second gold of the Games in the 5,000m

Nailed it: Nigeria's Regina George competes int he 800m

Nailed it: Nigeria's Regina George competes int he 800m

Trailblazer: Gabby Douglas competes on the beam on the way to gold in the women's individual all-around final, her second of the Games

Trailblazer: Gabby Douglas competes on the beam on the way to gold in the women's individual all-around final, her second of the Games

First among unequals: Usain Bolt wins the 100m

First among unequals: Usain Bolt wins the 100m

Artistic: Sara Labrousse and Chloe Willhelm of France compete in the synchronised swimming doubles

Artistic: Sara Labrousse and Chloe Willhelm of France compete in the synchronised swimming doubles

Silver service: Lizzie Armitstead (second right) follows Marianne Vos on her way to claiming GB's first medal of the Games

Silver service: Lizzie Armitstead (second right) follows Marianne Vos on her way to claiming GB's first medal of the Games

All smiles: Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian of all time after winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle

All smiles: Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian of all time after winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle

London 2012 Olympics: Shanaze Reade ponders track return to replace retiring Victoria Pendleton

Reade ponders track return to replace Pendleton at Rio Games

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UPDATED:

16:05 GMT, 11 August 2012

BMX ace Shanaze Reade is considering a
return to the velodrome for the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 after a
second successive Olympic final disappointment.

Reade, who finished sixth in the BMX
final at the Olympic Velopark on Friday, twice won Track Cycling World
Championship titles in the team sprint alongside Victoria Pendleton in
2007 and 2008, before the two-woman, two-lap event was included in the
Olympics for the first time at London 2012.

Disappointment: Shanaze Reade finished sixth

Disappointment: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the BMX final

In London, Jess Varnish partnered Pendleton, who has now retired to leave a vacancy which Reade could fill, possibly as specialist starter, with Varnish riding the second lap.

Reade insisted a track return would not be at the expense of BMX, but knows she has potential in the discipline.

The 23-year-old Crewe rider said: 'I believe I've got a lot to offer on the track and in BMX.

'I can definitely say BMX is at the forefront of that, because I've got unfinished business.

'But at the same time let's see where the track world takes me.

Dream team: Victoria Pendleton (left) and Shanaze Reade at the track cycling world championships in 2007

Dream team: Victoria Pendleton (left) and Shanaze Reade at the track cycling world championships in 2007

'I only ever did six-week blocks on the track and I've seen some fantastic results.

'In the team sprint times have moved on from when I did it; people are training for that event now.

'I'd be silly to close that door entirely now that Victoria's left and left more of a space for the other British athletes to come through.

'I'll take a bit of time out and see where my career path leads.'

Reade crashed out of the 2008 Olympic final in Beijing attempting a gold-medal-or-bust manoeuvre before finishing sixth after a slow start to her London 2012 final.

She added: 'I feel pretty tired after the whole experience. I feel pretty flat still, but at the same time I've got to hold my head up high.

'I gave it my absolute best. I felt good mentally and physically, but obviously in the final it didn't pay off.'