King of the Lane ends his reign as injury-hit defender forced to retire
20:32 GMT, 19 July 2012
Ledley King's retirement prompts
questions about what might have been for the former Tottenham defender
but the issue for Spurs now is what happens next.
King announced on Thursday he was
quitting football at the age of 31, after years of battling injuries and
with no cartilage remaining in his left knee.
Calling time: Ledley King has retired
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Could Ledley King have been the best defender of his generation
King, who has captained Tottenham since 2005 and has suffered from chronic knee problems in recent years, has announced his retirement.
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He departs after 323 first-team appearances and 14 goals for Tottenham, the club he joined when he was 14 and with whom he won the Carling Cup in 2008.
He earned 21 England caps, scoring two goals, but the numbers don’t do justice to King’s enormous talent in central defence. His hampered movement and lack of speed began to be exposed in the second half of last season, but you can’t help but wonder what he might have achieved if his body had been as strong as his impeccable reading of the game.
England man: King won 21 international caps and scored twice
Those silken performances, delivered in
recent years after training only in the gym or pool, once prompted
former manager Harry Redknapp to liken King to a Rolls-Royce. Spurs
chairman Daniel Levy called King ‘one of the most gifted
players in the history of the club’ and Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon
urged the club to retire King’s No 26 shirt. ‘The best defender I’ve
ever played with or against,’ Lennon added on Twitter. ‘He will be
missed greatly. Legend.’
King told Tottenham’s website: ‘I have missed a lot of football over the
years, but the Spurs fans have always been patient and incredibly
supportive with me. Sadly my injuries and inability to train have now
finally brought an end to my career.
Injury plagued: King career was blighted by injury
‘Tottenham is a second home for me. I have been here since I was a boy, I
have always considered it my club and have always found it hard to
imagine wearing the shirt of another team.
‘I know that being a one-club man is a rarity these days, but I have
always enjoyed being part of the set-up here and the challenge of
putting this club with the elite where it should be.’
King’s loyalty — and the club’s allegiance to a defender who has played
only 44 matches in the past two seasons — means he will continue to
represent Spurs as an ambassador. A testimonial match will also take
place at the end of this season.
Silver lining: King lifted the Carling Cup after Spurs beat Chelsea in 2008
Andre Villas-Boas praised King’s ‘tremendous past’ last week. This feels
like the right decision for King, but now the Spurs boss must try to
Numbers are not the problem, with William Gallas and Sebastien Bassong
linked with moves away from White Hart Lane, but finding the right
partnership may take time and that is in short supply if Villas-Boas’s
bid to win the title is to be a realistic one.
New signing Jan Vertonghen, 25, will be making his debut in the Premier
League this season, most likely alongside Younes Kaboul or Michael
Dawson. Steven Caulker is another intriguing option.
How Tottenham cope with life after Ledley could be the key to their chances of success this season.
Early days: King made his debut in 1999