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Ledley: Summer I'll never forget

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).

It is no understatement to suggest that Ledley King has had a summer he will never forget.

The England international returned to Spurs Lodge last week to begin preparations for the new season following his Euro 2004 exploits and the birth of his first child. He played his first friendlies at the weekend.

Ledley was drafted into England's Portugal party and was named in the side for the opener against France in Lisbon before featuring as a substitute in the third group against Croatia.

In the build-up to the quarter-final against Portugal Ledley got the call to say his girlfriend had gone into labour and the 24-year-old made a dash back to England, but ultimately missed the premature birth of son Cobi.

So, all in all, he is not likely to forget the summer of 2004...

"You could say that!" laughed Ledley as he began to recall the events of June that began with taking on the former world champions. "Going away with England was a great honour for me and I enjoyed the experience, then my girlfriend gave birth to our little son - so I will never forget this summer.

"France was a big one for me, I went into the game with the main aim of not letting anyone down. I wanted to go out there, keep it steady and not make any mistakes.

"Obviously there would have been quite a few supporters who hadn't seen me play much and to play well for England in such a big game was important to me.

"We could sense the hype going on at home out in Portugal and we knew how huge it was before we left. I was nervous, as normal, but I have always said that I enjoy my nerves and it helps me play my best."

Ledley did not put a foot wrong during a game that England looked to have won before it all went wrong in the final couple of minutes when Zinedine Zidane made his mark on proceedings - to the disbelief of players and fans alike.

"It was a shock, we thought we played well and got so close to winning. It was unbelieveble what happened in the last few minutes, but it was a tournament and we had to get over it quickly. We couldn't dwell on it too much."

After playing a large chunk of last season in midfield for us, Sven Goran Eriksson transferred this to international level for the final 30 minutes against Croatia - much to the surprise of the player himself.

"To be honest, I never thought I would play in midfield for England," he smiled. "I must admit I wasn't looking forward to it too much. I came on and did a steady job and quite enjoyed it in the end."

The call then came from home ahead of the Portugal game and Ledley duly departed hoping he would be required to make a return flight for the semi-finals. It, unfortunately, was not to be and he witnessed the conclusion of England's Euro 2004 campaign on television.

"I had to make a decision. I spoke to Sven and he said it was up to me and I felt I had to be there. If we had got through I would have come back out.

"I caught the end of the game back at home, sitting on my own watching it which was quite strange. I was more nervous at home than when I was out there."

The good news is that Cobi is making good progress and should be joining the King household very soon.

"He is doing well and it shouldn't be too long before he comes home - we are looking forward to that."

For now though, Ledley is concentrating on getting back in the swing of things at the training ground - and getting to know a few new people at the club!

"It is quite a big change at the moment with a lot of new faces. The lads seem to be enjoying it and everything seems well organised."