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Final countdown - JJ and Ledley on '08

Posted on 28 February 2015  - 21:30

As part of our countdown to Sunday's Capital One Cup Final, we brought together two key men who helped us lift the trophy against Chelsea back in 2008 - Jermaine Jenas and skipper Ledley King.

JJ on target in the 2008 semi-final first leg at ArsenalJubilation in the second leg at the Lane

The pair gave us a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into the build-up to that famous victory at Wembley and we will show the best bits on our groundbreaking Matchday Show ahead of the final on Sunday. The show runs from 12.30pm.

And what perfect players to look back with!

JJ was in the form of his life in midfield, demonstrated by his outstanding displays in both legs of the semi-final victory over Arsenal. He scored in the first leg, a 1-1 draw at the Emirates, before opening the scoring and being involved in every goal as we ran riot 5-1 in the return to book our place in the final.

Ledley also played in the semi-final - but due to his persistent knee problems, didn't feature again until stepping out against Chelsea at Wembley and giving one of his best displays alongside match-winner Jonathan Woodgate.


In this exclusive excerpt, we pick up the story just ahead of the semi-final against Arsenal...

Jermaine Jenas: "The whole semi-final is a blur. I was on fire at that time, I felt invincible."

Ledley King: "That was your best spell at Tottenham."

JJ: "Easily. Juande Ramos put a lot of belief in me and that took me to another level. I felt the fittest I ever felt and I remember going into the Arsenal semi-final just thinking ‘no matter what, you are not going to be able to stay with me’."

Ledley: "I remember you being box-to-box and just running past people."

JJ: "Even with the goal in the first leg, I remember Keano used to drop off and that was like a trigger for me, I’d just go. He dropped off and I was gone and before I knew it, I was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. When I look back at it now though, when I went though, I relaxed so much just thinking it was a tap-in and the ball actually goes under him! Once we beat Manchester City in the quarter-finals when we went down to 10 men, the belief really started and come the semi-finals, we were flying."

Ledley: "I remember the City game but that was the start of the problems with my knee. I’d just had a big operation."

JJ: "You hadn’t trained for ages leading up to the final."

Ledley: "I didn’t do anything between the semi-final and the final."

JJ: "That’s right. I always needed that thing in my head where I’m thinking ‘I’m fit’ and I could look at the midfielder I’m playing against and think ‘you are not going to stay with me’ but I remember thinking before the final ‘how is Ledley going to get through this game?’ because you hadn’t played for weeks."

Ledley: "It’s not nice. You want that reassurance that you’ve done everything right."

JJ: "It’s like in pre-season, as soon as you tick that 90-minute box you think ‘I’m ready’."

Ledley: "Not knowing is not nice. The thing that got me though was reading in a newspaper perhaps the day before the final that I was thinking of retiring and that was a real shock to the system. It was at the beginning of my knee trouble, I was 26, 27, so that wasn’t in my head at that time. That scared me. I went into that game with the incentive of showing people that I wasn’t finished. I think that helped me through."


JJ: "When it comes to the semi-final, you can’t help but talk about the fans. I loved the Arsenal games from day one, they really got me going. I was so focused but I got to the end of the tunnel that night and had a little glance and I just saw eyes that said ‘you better perform tonight’. In the first five or 10 minutes it was ‘attack, attack, attack, get that first goal’ and once it went in, we kept going and the reason we kept going was because we’d all had bad experiences against Arsenal. They were always coming back against us."

Ledley: "We could never feel safe. The amount of times they scored a late equaliser or we’d be better them but not get the result."

JJ: "We never really got over the line, so even when we scored the second goal, we were all thinking ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’ - perhaps it was when Steed scored the fifth, 5-1, we thought they’d been put to bed! Once that goal went in, it was Wembley time!"

Ledley: "That was a night to remember, especially for you personally."

JJ: "It’s not often you capture that form and do to it against Arsenal and for us to win so emphatically was special. It’s only now that I’m away from the club and a bit older that I realise the importance of it. Whenever fans stop me, they always say ‘thanks for your goals against Arsenal’ and it’s always that game. Funnily enough, I don’t think I’ve even watched the full 90 minutes back."

Ledley: "I haven’t watched it back in full either but if I was you and involved in all the goals I definitely would have!"

JJ: "One thing that brought it home was after we beat Arsenal, we all went out together to an Italian restaurant and I sat down for a chat with Berba and he said ‘you were absolutely brilliant, thank-you’ and I was a bit taken aback! I thought I must have played particularly well that night!"

Ledley: "Going back to that night, we got together after the semi-final and we all had a big chat as a group."

JJ: "Yes, we got together and said ‘we have to win this trophy now’."

Ledley: "We just got our heads together and said ‘we need to win it’."

JJ: "We were in the restaurant and you and Keano got all the lads together and we said ‘right, we’ve done this, but we’ve achieved nothing yet’."

Ledley: "I like teams getting together because you can get that out of it and when you get that togetherness, you can be a tough team to beat."

JJ: "Everyone was there."

Ledley: "You knew going out onto the pitch what to expect from everyone. That night really comes back to me now."

JJ: "I tell you who was also brilliant in that second leg, Teemu."

Ledley: "He was so important."

JJ: "Didier Zakora was a partner of mine, Luke Modric later down the line, but Teemu was the a player I had a great relationship with."

Ledley: "He was so calm. You just trusted him and that allowed you to go out to go and do your thing."


JJ: "Exactly. I could go forward and play deeper but I was always caught between both. When you focus your energy on one thing, going forward and scoring goals, you can be great and Teemu was one player who allowed me to do that. He would say to me ‘you don’t need to keep coming back here, I’ve got it covered’ and he did. I’ve never seen anyone read the game like him."

Ledley: "He was brilliant."

JJ: "Do you remember in training when you thought you could knock a pass by him and he’d be there almost before you passed it?"

Ledley: "When he was in the team, his record said we were a harder team to beat."

JJ: "He was so under-rated and that’s another thing that sticks in my mind, thinking about that semi-final."

Ledley: "The next night, Chelsea got through to meet us in the final and we didn’t mind, in that period of time, we knew we could compete with them."

JJ: "Especially when they came to White Hart Lane. We had some nightmares at Stamford Bridge, but at the Lane we had good results against them."

Ledley: "We felt we’d found a formula to beat them and it was about our legs, our energy and our pace. We knew it would be a tough final and I’d been in a final (2002) where we were favourites and that’s a different pressure."

JJ: "We were so focused and together on what we wanted to do and wanted to achieve."

Ledley: "We enjoyed playing against them and there was a rivalry with some of the Chelsea players we’d played with for England, players we’d grown up with, so there was that little extra in it."

JJ: "I was also sick of them winning and us not winning. It was time for us to win something."

Ledley: "Yes, it was time."

Look out for more from JJ and Ledley in our Matchday Show from Wembley.