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King Can Rise To The Challenge


For some, the end of Rio Ferdinand’s World Cup also sent a blast across the bows of English hopes of winning the trophy. One of the squads truly great players being forced out simply weakens the side is the consensus, but me I’m not so disillusioned by the news. Yes it’s a blow and I feel dreadfully sorry for Ferdinand, but thankfully, England have something as good as to fall back on. Ledley King.

None of the waling from this England fan, no panic, no fear, no lack of conviction because I have the pleasure of watching King on a regular basis. He is my favourite Tottenham player in recent memory, a product of the Tottenham Hotspur youth system, a footballing diamond. Don’t give me the nonsense about his knee. King on one leg is better than most central defenders in Europe. Capello knows this, it’s why he’s wanted him as part of the squad since he took over as England manager. He knows how good Ledley King is and he knows he makes England stronger.

King is a freak of nature, the likes of which I’ve only ever come across once before in the form of the Irish colossus, Paul McGrath. Yet what a player he is, comfortable on the ball, strong in the air, dangerous at set pieces. Like McGrath before him, chronic knee problems curtail his training to a bare minimum. Yet there is, playing at the back for Spurs, slotting seamlessly back in. The club have had to tailor the tactics to suit him, fit the team around him, when his knee allows it, he plays. In a World Cup competition, the break between games gives him ample recovery time.

Yet, for all Kings problems, he looks after himself far better off the pitch than McGrath did. If I could ever recommend a book about football, Paul McGrath’s autobiography would be it. It’s frightening he was able to play with damaged knees, never mind as a chronic alcoholic as well. King, Carling Cup winning celebrations apart, tends to keep himself in good condition. He has to, he needs to, his body can’t be allowed to slip away from the conditioning he uses in his training.

People forget back in Euro 2004, King came in for the injured John Terry for his competitive England debut against France and was immense. He then played as a substitute in midfield against Croatia and calmed the team down.  He was a shoe in for the 2006 World Cup until a metatasal injury ruled him out of the tournament. Then his injury problems began and here we are 4 years later facing the fact that King will be playing.

With only 68 league appearances since 2006, it is nothing short of amazing that he is here, ready to put his body on the line for his country when it needs him. Do not underestimate Ledley King or suspect him to be a weak spot in the English defence. He only needs to play against USA and Algeria and help England try and gain maximum points. 6 points there will be enough to see him rested against Slovakia and saved for the second round game. The way the tournament has fallen, he could effectively play one game every 5 or 6 days, just enough recovery time and play every match bar the 3rd group game.

Yet, in Tottenham’s final 3 matches, he started all 3 in 8 days. The first time he had done so in nearly 3 years and that alone stands as a testament to the man. No training, no tactical practice, he simply keeps fit and plays, it’s an astounding achievement.England have only lost one competitive game when he’s played out of 12 and he can partner John Terry without breaking a sweat. That kind of record speaks for itself, great players can slot in as when required and there is no doubt that King is indeed a great player.

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  1. Peter

    June 10, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    “6 points there will be enough to see him rested against Slovakia and saved for the second round game.”

    England’s third group game is against Slovenia, not Slovakia. It’s annoying that so many people keep confusing Slovenia for Slovakia. Hopefully the World Cup will help educate people regarding different countries and geography.

    Slovenija gre naprej!

  2. kingblows

    June 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    King looked lost against Mexico.

  3. Simon Burke

    June 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I hope you are right on King but I am scared that as he cant train that we cant develop a partnership with Terry.
    Also its one thing to have him and its another to rely on him. If England is to win he’ll play 7 games and those last 3 come pretty quickly. With luck he’ll be rested for the third game if we have qualified by then (touch wood).
    I think we are asking a lot of a guy who cant train and who hasnt played 7 games in such a short time in recent memory….

  4. Tyson

    June 8, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I’m definitely unhappy about the Ferdinand situation but there can’t be any better replacement for Ferdinand than King. He’s a good player and a good leader.

  5. mincir

    June 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    King is a player of his own type. He has ability to defend his side and to make his side winner.

  6. Devils Advocate

    June 8, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    King is without doubt, one of the most accomplished centre halves England (and Spurs) have had in recent times and I echo the sentiments of all who hope he can both endure and perform to his capabilities in the coming weeks.

    I have no doubt he has the heart to go through the pain barrier but whether his body allows this remains to be seen. My key concern however is not whether he can perform competently but more whether he can establish an understanding with Terry quickly. England are vulnerable through the centre (I still believe they were with a fully fit Ferdinand) so the quicker Gareth Barry returns to the squad, the better.

  7. jose

    June 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    i think king is a damm good central defender. by the way speaking of central defenders whatever happened to lescott.

    • Paul Bestall

      June 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      Ah, Joleon Lescott.
      He pulled his hamstring in March and never regained fitness. Was a little odd that he just disappeared off the map. Should be back for City’s preseason in July.

  8. football betting

    June 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Ledley is top notch, no worries there

  9. McBride

    June 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    “King is a freak of nature, the likes of which I’ve only ever come across once before in the form of the Irish colossus, Paul McGrath.”

    It’s such a shame the best American athletes don’t play soccer. There are Ledley Kings playing for virtually every major college football team in the US.

    • Paul Bestall

      June 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      Oh I agree McBride, as a massive fan of the NFL, I am often amazed at what I see on a weekly basis on the Gridiron field. Though not recently from my beloved Redskins, though hopefully McNab can help out this season.

      • Jared

        June 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm

        It is a shame. When I see a Ledley King, I think of a guy that went to the same college as I did in, Julius Peppers, who was a 2 sport star (basketball and football) who is now a defensive end for the Bears. He would have made and immense center half with his speed and power (similar to King but taller and quicker).

        As much as I want the US to win against England, it is tough to root against Ledley King who has fought off an injury that everyone thought would end his career 2 or 3 seasons ago.

  10. MennoDaddy

    June 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    As a Yank fan, late to soccer fandom and now a devoted Spurs supporter, I can’t agree with this more. Ledley is an absolute freak of nature. Just imagine how good he’d if he had two healthy knees and could regularly train — he’d be up there in the defensive pantheon (and probably starting for Real or Barca).

    I’ll be rooting for USA to pull the upset, but I’ve got a very warm spot in my heart for Ledley King.

    • Paul Bestall

      June 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm

      Welcome to the Spurs then MennoDaddy. A lifetime of bitter disappointment and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory awaits you.

      • ovalball

        June 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm

        Paul, how can you say that after this year?!

        Some people are never happy. I’ll bet you’re one of those glass-half-empty people. 😉

      • MennoDaddy

        June 8, 2010 at 10:56 pm

        Well, this season sure shot that theory to pieces, didn’t it? 😉

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