Ledley King: What Is And What Shall Never Be (And The Curse Of Cinder Toffee Knees)

By Chris Wright

And with that, he was gone. At the age of just 31, Ledley King has finally been forced to kowtow to the inevitable: He just wasn’t built to last. He’s to undergo the surgery he’s been putting off since January within the next few days, rehabilitate himself over the pre-season and, with retirement hanging over his head like the pen knife of Damocles, ‘see how he feels’ come August.

As far as playing for Tottenham again is concerned, it just ain’t going to happen. His contract expired and, all sentimentality aside, the club just weren’t willing to once again rejig their ever-optimistic belief in their captain overcoming the relentless subterfuge cruelly rendered upon him by his own bloody bastard knees – knees sadly hewn from the genetic equivalent of cinder toffee. As a co-sufferer, he has my deepest, profoundest sympathy.

There is a hypothetical school of thought that, had King been more resistant to injury, he’d have been the finest centre-half of his generation – both at club and international level. It’s hard to disagree. The poise, the reading of the game, the nous, the commitment, the timing, the temperament, the technique; it was all there. He had everything at his disposal – bar the requisite cartilage. As ‘Arry once so succinctly put it: ‘There’s nothing in there, it’s just bone on bone!”

Of course, he’s had his wobbles (for instance, we doubt he looks back on his little nightclub escapades with much pride) though you’d expect the performances of a player famously unable to play on astroturf for fear of falling apart and reduced to training in the gym a few times in the week then just phoning in a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to his manager the day prior to games (‘The Mido’ as it’s become known at White Hart Lane) to slip over the years. Despite being the butt of a thousand jokes, that was never the case with King.

When he played, he was almost always exemplary – the only problem being the blindingly obvious one: He made just 260-odd appearances for Spurs in the space of 14 years. You have to be something pretty special to come away with ‘legend’ status on the back of those kind of numbers.

Likewise, he played 21 times for England, though it should have been far more. He should have been an ever-present. One of the finest English defenders of his and several other generations – a new template for an almost reduntant model. Alas, it wasn’t to be. He was there or thereabouts in stretches, but…

I realise this is reading a little like an obituary, but hey ho – on we press. It looks like King is going to be kept on at Spurs in a non-playing/coaching capacity – a fitting move for a player 100% dedicated to the only club he’s ever represented – so, before he moves on into the next phase of his career, Pies would just like to offer our humble praise.

Ledley King: A prototype for an altogether better genus of English centre-back, sadly replete with the in-built obsolescence that comes with it.

Posted in Featured, Opinion, Tottenham Hotspur

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  1. Wilma says:


    The article. Not his knees. Definitely not his knees.

  2. ppp says:

    Oh come on, the only reason he never left Spurs was cos they were the only club willing to pay him to sit around doing nothing for 95% of every season.

    The bloke was unfortunate with his knees – if he’d been physically able he could have played for the Mancs or Chelsea or Arsenal (when they were actually good). His qualities reading the game might even have seem him play abroad if he wanted it.

  3. Glenn says:

    Glad it’s not just us blinkered Spurs fans who think he is the best ever. King is a legend, always will be. Gutted he didn’t play more…

  4. Toz says:

    Another player who was much better in Football Manager and FIFA than he was in real life.

  5. benny says:

    a class, class center half

  6. RupstoH says:


  7. muppets says:

    Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate – the greatest centre back pairing that never was

  8. Alex says:

    Toz you are an ignoramous.

  9. asafa says:

    @wilma, yes yes and yes again

  10. West End Blues says:

    Reeeeeaaaallly? ‘When he played, he was almost always exemplary’. Think you may be getting a wee bit carried away, I thought he was average a lot of the time he played. The FA cup semi-final being a recent example (he was probably more useless than average actually).

    Still, I myself have ruptured my ACL and so I can empathise with him greatly and he did indeed show moments of brilliance, but no where near enough to conclude he could have been the best English centre-half of a generation. That sir is a bridge too far.

  11. Andy Carroll's Ponytail says:

    @muppets: Too true mate.

    Imagine if King, Woody, Terry and Rio were your 4 Central Defs going into the last few international tournaments.

  12. Anonymous says:

    They rebuilt Lee Majors with nuclear powered limbs, and that was back in the 70’s
    I don’t understand why this can’t be done now that we’re in 2012

  13. ac slater says:

    always liked ledley, could of been a colossus at any of the ‘bigger’ clubs. think he would of suited a mid 2000’s ac milan shirt as well. he seems a thoughtful bloke with a very good understanding of the game. after earning his stripes at spurs i say get him down to st georges park to work with young defenders and holding midfielders.

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