Jon Rayner talks to midfielder Ledley King.
Limping around Spurs Lodge last summer with his leg in plaster, Ledley King could not have imagined the forthcoming season was going to be such a positive one for him.
Our stylish midfielder had returned from England Under-21s duty in the European Championships with a broken leg and while the rest of the squad were hard at work in pre-season training, Ledley was contemplating another campaign as a bit-part player.
He couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, he has become a key figure in the team, playing his part in 17 league games, being instrumental in our cup run, returning to the England Under-21 fold and even setting a Premiership record.
Speaking before our FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, Ledley admitted he is surprised at how well the season has developed for him.
"I have always been confident in my ability and felt that, given the opportunity, I could do well and that’s certainly happened," he says. "But if I’m honest, I would have to say that I am surprised to have played so many games this season. The way it’s worked out has been great, I’ve been given a chance and I feel I’ve played well enough each time to make it difficult to be left out in the next game.
"That’s exactly what I wanted to do, now I just want to get as many games under my belt as I can before the end of the season and then look to continue the run next year too."
Ledley has fond memories of our last encounter against tonight’s opponents Bradford City. It was against the Bantams back in December that the 20-year-old wrote his name into the Premiership record books, firing home our opening goal in the game at Valley Parade after just 10 seconds. So what does he recall of his record-breaking feat.
"I remember we took our usual kick-off and put the ball deep into their half," he says. "One of their defenders headed it away, but fortunately it fell to me around the edge of the box and I’ve just hit it. The ball took a wicked deflection on it’s way in, but I still claimed it!
"It’s a league record and it will probably take some beating, although Mark Viduka tried the other week against Charlton. I had the stopwatch out for that one, just to make sure it wasn’t quicker than mine and I was pleased when I realised it took him 11 seconds," he laughs.
"Seriously though, it was my first ever goal for Spurs as well, so it was a double celebration for me."
Tonight, of course, we tackle Bradford under a new management team following the appointments last week of Glenn Hoddle and John Gorman and the promotion to first team coach of Chris Hughton. It’s been a busy time for the club but Ledley feels the changes have not unsettled the players in any way.
"I think we are all professional enough to know that these things happen in football and, as players, you just have to get on with your own job," he says. "I don’t think it’s affected us much at all. Now Glenn Hoddle is in charge and he’s looking positive about the future and we are all looking forward to working with him.
"I do think though that you can sense a lift around the club and with the supporters and that does filter down to the players. I think we are certainly heading in the right direction and the new manager coming in is just the next step along the way.
"We’ve got a good squad with some excellent young players making the breakthrough. I’ve been fortunate enough to break into the first team on a regular basis this season and it’s nice to have other younger players with you, it gives you more confidence.
"Anthony Gardner made his full debut at Highbury recently, he’s another one to have forced his way through and our squad certainly has the potential to provide a successful future at the club. What we need to aim for now is European football, that will be the next progression up and I’m confident it will happen sooner rather than later."
For now though, after Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford, it’s back to the demands of the Premiership and our visitors from Bradford. But what price Ledley King to score the first goal? Make sure you’re in your seats on time otherwise you might miss it!