He epitomises our football club...
Tributes came pouring in for Ledley King at our former skipper’s Testimonial Gala Dinner.
Spend a few minutes speaking to his team-mates, coaches and fans and you get a picture of the high regard Ledley is held in.
Ledley spent all his career at Spurs. He progressed through the Academy to make his first team debut aged 18 in 1999 and made over 300 appearances for us, most as captain and enjoyed a career highlight of lifting the League Cup at Wembley in 2008.
Injury forced Ledley to retire last summer, although as one era ended, another began and he’s now relishing his new role as Club Ambassador.
Peter Crouch was with Ledley from the very start. The pair used to train together and were team-mates in the Academy before ‘Crouchy’ moved to QPR in 2000.
The striker re-joined us in 2009 and the pair completed the journey from the old ball court at White Hart Lane to the Champions League in 2010.
“I played with Ledley when we were 13,” reflected Peter. “We used to play at White Hart Lane on a Tuesday night and Thursday night and you could see from the first session that Ledley was going to be a top, top player. He was miles ahead of anyone our age.”
David Ginola was a huge signing in the summer of 1997. At the same time, a young central defender in the Academy was starting to make his mark.
“Most of the players and people at the club would say ‘you see that guy over there, he’s the future’,” reflected David. “They always said he would progress to the first team and that’s what happened. They were right to talk about Ledley in those terms.”
Six months after Ledley made his debut at Liverpool, another highly-rated, young central defender was snapped up from Port Vale.
Anthony Gardner went on to make 143 appearances for us. “I walked into Spurs Lodge at the age of 19 thinking I was one of the biggest, strongest defenders around and this lad sitting next to me in the changing room had all the attributes I had, and more. That was my first impression of Ledley. I knew he was going to be a special player.”
Jermaine Jenas joined us in 2005 and was there for Ledley’s highlight as we lifted the League Cup against Chelsea in 2008.
“Myself, Ledley, Robbie Keane, I remember us talking and saying we were all so desperate to win something at Spurs,” said JJ. “For us all to share that moment was something special and I think we’d all say that was the pinnacle of our careers at Spurs. It’s something we’ll share forever and I’m so pleased I got to experience it with Ledley.”
Clive Allen watched Ledley blossom into one of the best defenders around during his eight years coaching at the club.
“He’s a fantastic example to every youngster, the way he conducted himself as a player and a person over the years,” said Clive. “It was very unfortunate he didn’t have the best of luck with injuries but as a player, I have to say he’s one of the best I worked with.”
Goalkeeping coach Tony Parks knows all about legendary status at the club after his heroics helped lift the UEFA Cup in 1984. “It wasn’t until I came back to the club as a coach that I realised what a fantastic footballer he was,” said Parksy.
“As a person, he’s terrific, a very humble guy, easy to approach, great with the younger players. It’s great to see him still involved with the club and all the projects he’s involved in. You can see him growing as a personality and he’s a fantastic ambassador for Tottenham Hotspur. He epitomises our football club.”
Here’s a fan’s perspective from Barry Norman, presenter of BBC’s Film review from 1972-1998 and Spurs supporter of almost 70 years.
“I’ve been a Spurs fan since I was 10-years-old, so I’ve probably been a fan for longer than anyone here! I remember the fantastic double team. I also remember Ledley very well, because let’s be honest, for many years, Ledley was the best centre-back in the country. He was so unlucky with all those injuries. I thought he was a terrific player. I can imagine him playing in our double team, which I believe is the best team I’ve seen anywhere.”
The final word goes to Head Coach, Andre Villas-Boas. “In every conversation you have with him, you understand Ledley’s values and the person he is.
“He excelled as a central defender because of his reading of the game, his technical qualities, that made him the great player he was and a great symbol for Tottenham Hotspur.”