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KING-SIZE FRIENDS - AND RIVALS

Posted on 21 September 2006  - 12:00

Ledley King has followed Peter Crouch's rise to the top every step of the way “but he will do his all to stop his friend and former team-mate at Anfield on Saturday.

Ledley King has followed Peter Crouch's rise to the top every step of the way “but he will do his all to stop his friend and former team-mate at Anfield on Saturday.

The pair kicked-off their professional careers in our Academy but while Ledley climbed through reserve and first team ranks to be captain and one of our most influential players, Crouch's career took a different path away from the Lane.

The beanpole striker departed for QPR in July 2000 and then onto Portsmouth, where he scored 18 goals and caught the attention of Aston Villa, who moved in a big-money deal in 2002.

Following a loan spell at Norwich, his career went on an upturn again at Southampton, where his goals in the 2004-05 season won a call into the England squad for the summer tour of the USA in 2005 and his first cap against Columbia.

Another step up the ladder was next with a move to Liverpool and hes now an England regular with a World Cup under his belt and a fantastic strike rate of 11 goals in 14 caps.

"Crouchy has been great," said skipper Ledley. "I played with him for a number of years at Spurs, were good friends and I still speak to him now. We used to have a lot of fun in the youth team here.

"His first move was to QPR and he had a tough time in the first couple of years but hes realising his true potential now and showing what a good player his is for both Liverpool and England.

"Hes the nicest guy in the world and he deserves his success “ anyone who knows him will say the same and will be delighted for him. That's certainly the case for me.

"Everyone knows hes a threat and if you get crosses into him in the right areas hes very hard to play against. If he plays, well be aware of that threat."

A return to Anfield will stir memories for Ledley of his debut at the same ground back in May 1999. Everything looked rosy with us leading 2-0 just before half-time but Mauricio Taricco was sent off and Liverpool, inspired by Steve McManaman, overran our 10 men to win 3-2.

"When Taricco got sent off I was told to warm up," recalled Ledley. "I got a bit nervous, a bit twitchy, we went in at half-time and I was told I was coming on. I had a few minutes to gather my thoughts and it was great, the only unfortunate thing was we lost the game. What a place to make your debut though, at Anfield."