Ledley King fondly recalls the positive influence Gus Poyet had on him and the squad as a player and later coach at Spurs – and is not the slightest bit surprised to see him now flourishing as a manager at Brighton.
We travel to the all-new American Express Community Stadium to face Gus and the Seagulls in a friendly tomorrow afternoon, July 30, 3pm.
Our longest-serving player, Ledley had started to make inroads into the first-team as a 20-year-old when the larger-than-life Uruguayan was snapped-up from Chelsea in the summer of 2001.
Gus went on to play 98 times for us in all competitions between 2001-2004 – including a record of 18 goals from 66 starts in the Premier League – before returning as coach with Juande Ramos in November, 2007 and lifting the League Cup in February, 2008.
Appointed manager of Brighton in November, 2009, Gus, alongside another ex-Spur, Mauricio Taricco, initially steered the Seagulls out of trouble in League One in 2009-10 before storming to the title and promotion to the Championship last season.
“I remember Gus joining, it was a big signing for the club,” reflected Ledley. “Here was a South American player with a lot of flair, a lot of passion for the game and a real eye for goal.
“It was a great coup for us at the time.
“I wasn’t until I played with him that I realised how good he was. Technically he was great and could time his runs into the box to score goals.
“What was great about Gus was although he was from a long way away, he understood the English game and humour, the banter.
“You could see that from his time at Chelsea. He was a real team player. He was great to have around the place with his experience, know-how and will to win.
“As a player he was very talkative, very passionate. You could see he studied the game and it was no surprise to see him move into coaching and management.
“Everyone knows his qualities, he’s already got Brighton promoted and they look like they are going onto big things."
Meanwhile, Ledley reported that his rehabilitation was ‘going well’ after minor knee surgery on July 11.
“The surgery went well, rehabilitation is going well and I’m running, so hopefully I can push on and be ready for the start of the season,” he added.