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Ledley Brenton King (born 12 October 1980) is an Englishmarker footballer who is a central defender and also can play defensive midfield for Tottenham Hotspur. He is the longest serving player at the club and captained Spurs for four years. Ledley can play with both feet, has excellent distribution of the ball (thus can play in midfield) can head the ball and quoted by Thierry Henry as the best defender in Europe. He is currently contracted to Tottenham until 2010. Known for his pace, strength, composure on the ball with both feet and ability in timing his tackles. He has been described as "the best central defender I have seen in my career" by Martin Jol and was named by Thierry Henry as the only defender in the Premiership that could regularly tackle him without committing fouls. In March 2009 an article in The Times named King as Tottenham's 25th best player of all time.

In recent seasons King has been plagued by chronic knee problems, for which no effective treatment or remedy has been found. King's problems are now so bad that it prevents him from playing more than one game a week. Instead of training with the rest of the squad King undertakes fitness exercises on his own. His manager Harry Redknapp has called King "an absolute freak" for being able to perform at a high level despite not training.

Club career

Tottenham Hotspur


King joined Tottenham as a trainee in July 1997 and became a professional the following year. His debut came in May 1999 at Anfieldmarker ending in a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool. When breaking into the first team under former manager George Graham he was often used as a midfielder. It was with a fine performance in central midfield during Tottenham's 2-1 win over Liverpool in November 2000 that he established himself as a regular in the Spurs side. His first goal for Tottenham was scored in December 2000 in a 3-3 draw away to Bradford City which was scored in 10.2 seconds, setting a new Premier League record for the quickest goal.


After Graham was sacked, King was moved back into defence under new manager Glenn Hoddle, and with the departure of Sol Campbell to rivals Arsenal, there was a chance for King to establish himself as the club's top centre-back. He rose to the challenge brilliantly, kicking off the season with a clean sheet against Aston Villa and an excellent performance man-marking Duncan Ferguson as Spurs held on for a point against Everton at Goodison Parkmarker despite playing the final 25 minutes with 9 men. By the end of the season he'd been capped for England and was regarded as one of the best young defenders in the country as Tottenham finished 9th, their highest league finish in 6 years.

A hip injury sustained in the summer meant he didn't start the campaign until November, but he continued to impress with some excellent displays at the back. However, King was criticised due to the large amount of goals Tottenham were conceding. The season ended with Tottenham letting in 9 goals in their final two games against Middlesbrough and Blackburn Roversmarker. However, people defended King, saying the reason Spurs were conceding so often was because of Hoddle's poor choice of tactics in using a 3-5-2 formation and Tottenham's lack of a proper defensive midfielder that left the defence unprotected.

It was for this reason that when Hoddle was sacked in September 2003, caretaker manager David Pleat moved King into midfield to offer a better defensive presence in the middle of the park. Despite Tottenham battling relegation, one of the few bright spots for the season was King's performances in midfield. In February 2004, having not scored in over 3 years, King scored an excellent goal from the edge of the box in the FA Cup against Manchester City, and followed that up by scoring against Charlton a week later, before scoring on his first start for England the following week. Despite playing out of position for most of the season, he had done enough to convince Sven-Göran Eriksson to call him up to England's Euro 2004 squad.

In the summer of 2004, the Tottenham management team and squad was changed dramatically. Jacques Santini was appointed as manager and with defensive midfielders such as Michael Carrick, Pedro Mendes and Sean Davis joining the club, King was able to move back into his preferred centre-back slot. Noureddine Naybet was signed to bring experience to the Tottenham defence and King formed a fine partnership with him. This new partnership, as well as the form of newly signed England goalkeeper Paul Robinson meant that compared with 57 and 62 in the previous two seasons, Tottenham conceded just 41 goals in the Premier League, the fewest amount of league goals Tottenham had conceded in a season since the season (albeit some of the seasons played in that time were 42 game seasons instead of 38). King played the full 90 minutes in all 38 of Tottenham's league games and 9 of Tottenham's 10 cup games, the only game he missed all season was a 3-0 win away to Nottingham Forest. Spurs kept 13 clean sheets in the Premiership, including a fantastic man-of-the-match performance from King as Spurs drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridgemarker against eventual champions Chelsea, and against Manchester United at Old Traffordmarker. King scored 3 goals that season, one in the North London derby against Arsenal, one in a 5-1 demolition of Aston Villa, and another against Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup. He was voted Premier League Player of the Month for September 2004, the first defensive based player to win the award in almost 3 years. In January 2005, after the sale of Jamie Redknapp to Southampton, new manager Martin Jol appointed King as club captain.

In the summer of 2005, King captained Tottenham to win the Peace Cup, beating French champions Lyon in the final. Expectations were high for the season and King did not disappoint, forming a new excellent partnership with Michael Dawson. King's excellent displays at the back meant that Spurs were even stronger in defence than the previous season, conceding only 38 league goals. King was helping at the other end of the pitch too, with goals against Charlton, Portsmouth, and once again in the derby against Arsenal. For much of the season, Spurs occupied fourth place but they eventually succumbed to Arsenal, who finished in that position instead.


The season was a hard time for King as he struggled with injuries. After injuring his knee in training before the start of the season, King didn't start his season until mid-September. Then after breaking his metatarsal again, King didn't feature for Spurs from Boxing Day until the UEFA Cup quarter-final clash with Sevilla FC in mid-April. Spurs played 59 games in all competitions that season, but King featured in less than half of them. Without him, Tottenham's defence struggled and only managed 3 clean sheets against top flight opposition without King in the side. However, when King was fit his performances were of a consistently high level. King's finest moment of the season came in a Premier League clash with reigning champions Chelsea at White Hart Lanemarker, when Chelsea's pacy forward Arjen Robben was played through on goal. Despite Robben having several yards head start, King was able to catch up and make what was arguably the best tackle of the season just as Robben was about to shoot . Spurs went on to win the game 2-1, meaning King had captained Tottenham to their first league win over Chelsea since 1990, and the first at White Hart Lane since 1987.

King underwent surgery in the summer, meaning he would miss the start of the season. However, 4 months after the season had begun, there was still no sign of him. Manager Martin Jol had been sacked and replaced by Juande Ramos. But on Boxing Day 2007, King made a surprise return to the starting lineup against Fulham, playing 73 minutes before being replaced by Adel Taarabt. He appeared sporadically for the rest of the season, but captained Tottenham to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the 2008 Carling Cup final, the first major honour of his career.

On 3 April 2008 it was announced that he would be rested for the remainder of the season, Spurs having been knocked out of the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and unable to qualify for the Champions League through the League. King had featured in just 10 games all season, with just 4 Premiership games under his belt.

On 12 August 2008, Ledley picked up the trophy for the cleanest team in the Premier league for the season. He received the award at the 'Get on With the Game' programme which was shown on Sky Sports News.

It became clear at the start of the 2008/2009 season that King's injury problems meant that he could not play in every game. Ramos picked him in all 5 of the cup games he managed the club for that season, but only two of the eight league games. With Spurs rooted to the bottom of the league, having picked up just 2 points from those 8 games, Ramos was sacked and replaced by Harry Redknapp, who has chosen to prioritise the league and only play King in those games. On 26 October 2008, King made his 200th league appearance for Tottenham Hotspur as they defeated Bolton Wanderers 2-0. He captained the club in the Carling Cup final yet again, this time against Manchester United, keeping a clean sheet after 120 minutes of play, but Tottenham lost on penalties.

Harry Redknapp said of King's knee injury:

"There's no cure. There's no cartilage, nothing to operate on. It's just bone on bone. So it's just a question of managing it. It swells up after games and it normally takes seven days to recover but having played on Monday night he's had less time than usual. He rarely trains, he mostly just goes to the gym to keep himself ticking over. But not running or anything like that. But even if he only plays 20 games a season, he's worth having because he's so good we have a much better chance of winning."

Although King still holds the official title of club captain, Robbie Keane has worn the captain's armband in games which they have both played in since his return to the club from Liverpool in January 2009.

International career

King's England debut came in a 1-2 loss to Italy in March 2002. He was called into the England squad for the friendly against Portugal on 18 February 2004, and netted his first goal on his third appearance.

King received his England summer call-up for Euro 2004 and competently deputised for the injured John Terry in the opener against France in Portugal. Playing a starring role by man-marking Thierry Henry out of the game and not putting a foot wrong, he impressed everyone with his composure. He also made a substitute appearance in midfield in the final group game against Croatia.

King has continued to make the Englandmarker squad when healthy, where he fights for a starting place alongside either John Terry or Rio Ferdinand. He has also been used in a holding midfield role.

After featuring regularly in the qualifiers, King looked a likely participant in the England 2006 World Cup squad before fracturing a bone in his foot on 15 April 2006. Although not as bad as a similar injury affecting David Beckham, Gary Neville and Steven Gerrard, King's injury prevented him from being named in Sven-Göran Eriksson's squad.

His club manager Martin Jol was optimistic for his skipper's World Cup hopes. "This injury will take him three or four weeks so of course he will be fit," he claimed. Sven's feeling was that he was already taking injured players in the case of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen and Ashley Cole, and with strong cover at the back, it was one risk too many.
"Ledley King is injured and he can't train.
If you talk about centre-halves we are very well covered, so taking another one half-injured when we have so many good ones it is not a good idea."

King's injury problems have meant that his most recent England game was a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia on June 6 2007. King played 90 minutes and England won 3-0. He was featured in Fabio Capello's first squad, he later had to pull out through injury.

On Sunday 22 March 2009, King was given a shock recall by head coach Fabio Capello to the England team to play Slovakia and Ukraine. However, two days later he was removed from the squad after being assessed by England's medical staff, who thought it was in his best interests to continue his personal training regime at his club, due to the chronic knee condition that he has.Fabio Capello later said, in response to Harry Redknapp's objection to King's call-up, "Without doubt, King is one of the best central defenders in England. If he was fit, Redknapp would not need to make the journey. King could come with us." He later promoted King's cause again, saying that "We hope (he has an international future), because he's a very interesting player - one of the best centre-backs. But I don't know the future."

Club playing honours

Tottenham Hotspur F.C.


Club statistics

All-Time Club Performance
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals
Tottenham Hotspur(Premier League) 1998–99 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
1999–00 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
2000–01 18 1 5 1 0 0 0 0 23 2
2001–02 32 0 3 0 7 1 0 0 42 1
2002–03 25 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 26 0
2003–04 29 1 3 1 3 0 0 0 35 2
2004–05 38 2 5 1 4 0 0 0 47 3
2005–06 26 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 27 3
2006–07 21 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 27 0
2007–08 4 0 1 0 3 0 2 0 10 0
2008–09 24 1 0 0 2 0 3 0 29 1
2009–10 6 1 - - - - - - 6 1
Career Totals 226 9 18 3 20 1 11 0 275 13
Correct as of 29th Aug 2009

2009 arrest

On 10 May 2009 at 2:30 am, King was arrested on Soho Streetmarker on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm outside a London nightclub. He was subsequently bailed until mid-July while the police investigated the incident. King later issued an apology to his club, saying:

"I sincerely regret that a night out with friends went too far. I have apologised to Harry and I fully appreciate that, as a professional footballer, I have a duty to behave in a responsible manner," King said in a statement on the club's website. "I am assisting the police with their enquiries. Anyone who knows me, knows that much of what has been suggested is totally out of character. I am keen to resolve this as soon as possible and concentrate on my football."

This prompted his manager at Tottenham, Harry Redknapp, to promise a ban on alcohol for Tottenham players:

"I'll implement a strong rule next season that drinking is a no-no here. Footballers should not drink. You shouldn't put diesel in a Ferrari. I know it's hard but they are earning big money, they are role models to kids. We wouldn't get these problems if the players weren't drinking. There's still too much of a drinking culture in English football but it's not as bad as it used to be. At Tottenham we do a lot with kids, a lot of them underprivileged. We have to set an example. Too much drinking goes on in this country. Too many people are not happy unless they have had a drink."

Despite his arrest, Harry Redknapp later stated that King would start Tottenham's next league game.



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