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Hughton on Ledley

Posted on 19 November 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Chris Hughton knows Ledley King as well as anyone - and he happily predicts, in football terms, the youngster has the world at his feet.

It's two years to the day that the versatile defender was thrust into the limelight alongside Alton Thelwell and the pair starred in a 2-1 win against Liverpool at White Hart Lane.

Ledley, still just 22, has grown and grown since then.

He started our first 28 games of last season and 41 of the first 43 and his performances earned a first England cap in March and a place on the shortlist for the prestigious PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Unfortunately injury cut short his season in April and a hip problem kept him out until his Premiership reappearance at Highbury last weekend.

So high is he thought of, however, that it only took one game for Sven Goran Eriksson to call him back into the England set-up for this week's squad get-together.

Ill fortune struck Ledley though and he had to pull out after a bout of gastroenteritis.

Chris has followed every step of Ledley's rise through the ranks since he joined the club as a trainee in 1997 and can recall how he stood out from crowd at a young age.

Our first team coach said: "I can remember him playing in the youth team and Ledley was one that if you were watching, he would stand out.

"Sometimes he would do two or three things at the back, show real composure, bring the ball down instead of panicking and kicking it away, he would have more composure than others.

"It is a wonderful bonus for us that he has come through the youth policy here.

"The thing is, he's at the start of his career.

"The position he plays is a mature position. Generally the best centre-halves don't reach their peaks until they are 28, 29 years of age when they can combine the qualities they've got with that maturity and leadership you need in that position.

"He's got it all in front of him and as a future international, most definitely.

"His priority at the moment has to be to get himself fit and to play games here but certainly he has a wonderfully bright future."

Chris believes Ledley's great attributes - natural strength and pace combined with a unerring quality on the ball - can take him to the highest level.

He added: "He has a big frame but he's comfortable enough on the ball to cope with the pressures and pace of the modern game and the abilities of the players he's playing.

"If you look at international defenders, the vast majority will not only be able to defend but also distribute the ball. They have that composure, particularly at international level where the game is faster and more frantic than in the Premiership and most national leagues. As an international player, he is someone you would think has a future."

Chris and Glenn can now, touch wood, look forward to having Ledley available for the rest of the season.

"Not taking anything away from anyone who has been in the side, because we've had some wonderful performances, but the biggest testament to him is to say we've missed him," Chris concluded.

"That's how far along the road he's come."

And remember, that road has just started.