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WTPS: Ledley King feature

Posted on 16 September 2001  - 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).

Clive White interviews Ledley King in the Sunday Telegraph.

Here is that piece in full:

WHEN it became obvious, about a year ago, that Sol Campbell's contract talks were never going to be resolved amicably, David Pleat, understandably growing a little weary of the whole affair, remarked: "If he leaves, he leaves. It's not the end of the world. We'll find someone to replace him, it's like that in football, you know, `The king is dead. Long live the king'."

Not even Tottenham's vastly experienced technical director could have guessed how prophetic those words would be. There is indeed a new king - or perhaps prince - in Ledley King, who has switched impressively from midfield to take charge in the heart of Tottenham's defence.

By general consensus, King has been Tottenham's outstanding player this season - and by some distance. Over 80 per cent of fans have just voted him player of the month for August on the club's website. It is a verdict which the Spurs manager is not about to refute. As he looked for positives on the eve of today's match against Chelsea, a club Spurs have not beaten in 10 years, Glenn Hoddle happily found an obvious one staring him right in the face in the form of young King."He's impressed me immensely," Hoddle said. "He's come in this season and he's been our most consistent player, and he looks as if he can get better and better. He's quick, deceptively so, and big and physically strong, so he's got every attribute a defender needs. We've just got to make sure he doesn't take his foot off the pedal and he keeps working at his level of concentration - that's where youngsters get found out. But with experience and confidence there's no limit to what he can achieve."

There is no doubt that Spurs fans have found themselves a new hero and, when tie, they happily sang his praises while letting Arsenal know in no uncertain terms where they could stick Campbell. In truth, they still miss their old captain but, with each game he plays, King is slowly erasing him from their memory.

Campbell may even have done Spurs a favour by leaving because, if nothing else, it has accelerated the development of his young successor. It has certainly done the 20-year-old King a favour. "It would have been nice to play alongside Sol, but if he had not left I might not be playing," he said. "I could well be sitting on the bench right now, maybe not even there.

"Sol was a great help to me. Straight away, when I arrived at the club at 14, he was there to offer advice. He always used to tell me to just keep going and trust in my ability."

King has studied Campbell's game closely and is looking to play more like his former team-mate. "Like the way he gets tight on players, never gives them any breathing space," said King. "My heading is another area my managers have always told me to improve. If I'm going to be a defender I need to be able to win headers, it takes pressure off the team."

Yet watching King there are one or two things he could teach Campbell. Like sound technique. As Hoddle says: "He's got a rare talent in that he's an English defender who can play off both feet."

The modest King begs to differ. "I know my left foot's not as good as my right," he said. But then he is similarly self-effacing about his goal at Bradford last season - at 10 seconds the fastest scored in the Premiership - which he simply put down to "a wicked deflection". But Hoddle is right about one thing. He is a rarity: he dribbles with his left foot, plays keepy-uppy with his left, yet shoots with his right.

Comparisons with Campbell are inevitable, but obviously unfair at this stage of King's career. Comparisons between the two at the same age are much more pertinent. John Moncur, Spurs' head of recruitment, has overseen the development of both players and is perfectly placed to evaluate them, if naturally a little reluctant to do so.

Like Hoddle, Moncur always saw King as a defender, even though George Graham played him in midfield throughout last season. "Ledley has always been a big, strong footballing centre-half," he said. "It was the same with Sol, although he wouldn't have it. He wanted to play in midfield, he was always arguing with me about it. Whenever I see him now I remind him of it.

"Ledley has always played within himself, he never panics. With kids, you look at them and think `Yeah, but can he go on from here?'. Each time Ledley has gone on, no problem, from under-16 level for England to under-21. I'm sure he'll end up playing for England seniors one day, just like Sol.

"I don't like comparing players, but at the same age I'd have to say Ledley was probably a better footballer, while Sol would have been stronger and maybe a bit quicker. If you had them playing together, they'd probably complement each other perfectly."

Now there's a thought, though perhaps not one which Spurs fans should dwell.

Gerry Cox in the Observer and Rob Beasley in the NOTW talk about Glenn Hoddle facing his former club Chelsea on Sunday.

The NOTW piece reads as follows:GLENN HODDLE still shakes his head in disbelief when he thinks back to the shambles he discovered when he became Chelsea boss.

Hoddle says he was stunned at the complete lack of facilities at the club when he arrived to take charge in 1993.

And he reckons he had a BETTER set-up at Swindon than the one he inherited at Stamford Bridge.

Hoddle said: "The training ground was incredible. The manager didn't have an office — he didn't even have a phone there. There was no gym and no restaurant. The players were even bringing in their own biscuits for something to eat after training.

"I though to myself: ‘Blimey — I've come from Swindon to this.' I had to change a lot of things behind the scenes."

And it worked wonders, with Hoddle now widely credited as the man who laid the foundations for the success Chelsea have subsequently enjoyed.

The speed of change even surprised Hoddle. He said: "It had been 26 years since Chelsea had won anything. We got to the FA Cup Final in my first year and were in Europe the next year. It all happened very quickly."

The Blues still hold a special place in Hoddle's heart and he confessed: "It was a tough decision to leave and the England job was the only one that I would have left Chelsea to take.

"Remember, I turned down Spurs to go to Chelsea so I would have been happy to stay there.

"I have got good memories of my time at Chelsea and I'm proud of what I did there."

Hoddle also praised former Blues vice-chairman Matthew Harding, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 1996. Hoddle said: "Matthew was a smashing guy. I had the utmost respect for him. I would have worked very closely with him."

Spurs boss Hoddle spent just £10million in the summer, while Chelsea invested more than three times that on their squad.

Tottenham haven't beaten Chelsea at home for 10 years and Hoddle wants to end that jinx to send out a signal to the rest of the Premiership.

He said: "If we beat Chelsea it will be a big result for us. It means that there's a new Tottenham."

The NOTW also claims we're back in for Dean Richards and runs a story under the headline 'Stingy Spurs snub their heroes'. For the club's response, click here

The Sunday Mirror suggest Steffen Freund is a target for Birmingham City.