King for a week - England pride
12 October 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
As England prepare to conclude a successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in Lithuania this evening, Ledley King reflects on the importance of international football to his career.
Having represented England in the UEFA Under-21 Finals in 2000, our legendary former skipper was handed his senior debut by Sven-Goran Eriksson against Italy in March, 2002.
He went on to win 21 caps over the next eight years, appearing in the Euro 2004 Finals before his last cap against the USA in the 2010 World Cup Finals.
Speaking to us exclusively during our Europa League trip to Monaco recently, Club Ambassador Ledley was keen to underline how international football helped him develop and was delighted to see so many young Spurs selected for England duty across the various age groups.
“For me, international football was a platform for everyone to see what I could do – not just Spurs fans and that’s important to a player,” he said.
“I’d made my breakthrough at Spurs and I’m sure fans have arguments with their friends about this and that player and it’s not often fans of other teams get to see that player, so it’s important you prove the Spurs fans right!
“It was always such a proud moment to pull on an England shirt and do well. You are representing your club as well and that was always important for me.
“We’ve many players who fall into that category now where Spurs fans will be saying ‘he’s a top player’ and it’s up to the lads now to go out and show what they can do!”
Ledley certainly showed what he could do early in his England career at Euro 2004, when he kept Thierry Henry quiet as England looked set to beat the 1998 World Cup winners and 2002 European champions only for Zinedine Zidane to strike twice in the final minutes.
“I was quite inexperienced at that time,” Ledley reflected. “I’d come off the back of the 2003-04 season playing in midfield but in the first game of the tournament I played against France in a flat back four which, now I’ve looked back, I realise I’d never really done up until that game!
“Before that I’d played in a back three, in midfield, all over the place really, but never in a back four.
“That was when I realised ‘this defending is alright!’ and I enjoyed it.
“The next season Jacques Santini was in charge, he’d been manager of France for that game in the Euro finals and I played in a flat back four under him, really for the first time.
“I felt comfortable alongside Noureddine Naybet and I realised the potential I had playing there. It was a big tournament for me in terms of developing my favourite position in a back four and I took my career forward from there.”