In conversation with Ledley King

Footballers that embody a one-club mantra are a rare breed these days.

The promise of big dollars has quickly extinct loyalty from modern footballers, a long gone trait tied only to the ‘good-old-days’ of football. It’s therefore an unusual sight to appreciate Ledley King; standing on the MCG with a sherrin in hand, still as proud as ever to sport his Tottenham Hotspur tracksuit.

Despite the four years since he hung up his boots, it’s clear that Tottenham still, as always, has a special place in his heart.

“I joined as a 14 year old and I fell in love with the place. And now I still feel that same way now 20 years later,” King told THE TURF.

“What makes it special for me is the supporters, and their loyalty that they have shown me from such a young age.”

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Playing 321 competitive matches for Tottenham; King’s widely considered as one of the best products of the White Hart Lane Academy. A centre-back, famously described as a “freak” by Harry Redknapp, it’s not surprising as to why King was selected as club captain in 2005. His reign saw Tottenham win their one and only piece of silverware this decade, the 2008 League Cup.

“Every young kid back in England will tell you they dream of lifting the Cup at Wembley. I was no different. To finally have the opportunity to do that against one of our toughest rivals in Chelsea, was my greatest moment in a Spurs shirt.”

A lot’s changed since his career finally succumbed to a recurring knee injury. Since Mauricio Pochettino took up the reigns at Tottenham, the Spurs have continued to go from strength-to-strength. The emergence of the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli, has been re-energised the Spur’s. King believes that this season’s efforts have been the best he’s seen in recent memory.

“This is the best team that a I’ve seen since I’ve been at the club. It’s a young group of players, but they show so much maturity in their play. I think in years gone by we lacked that consistency. This team is strong, well balanced and I think that’s the main difference as to why this team has been able to perform.”

On the topic of the development of young English footballers, King suggested that Premier League clubs should provide more opportunities for home-grown academy players.

“I feel there is something that every team needs, and that is home grown players. To have a player that has worked his way up the youth team, you can see how much it means to him to be playing for that club. That’s what we are seeing with many of the young players at Tottenham.

“[At Tottenham] we have a manager who will pick a player regardless of his age if he feels he’s good enough and that’s a position that you want to be in and a position all clubs should strive to be in to have.”

If you’re keen to check out Tottenham play alongside Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Melbourne Victory in this year’s International Champions Cup, presented by Audi; tickets are now available at ticketek.com.au.

Ari Charilaou