'They are vital to this team' - Ledley on Rose and Walker
15 November 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Ledley King was there when both Danny Rose and Kyle Walker first walked through the door at Spurs. He could see something special in both players back then, and now takes great pride in describing the pair as ‘two of the best full-backs around’, highlighted by their performances in England’s 3-0 win against Scotland on Friday.
Danny and Kyle were involved in all three England goals at Wembley, providing direct assists for the first (Kyle to Daniel Sturridge) and second (Danny to Adam Lallana) while another raid from Danny won the corner from which Gary Cahill headed home number three.
Relentless up and down their respective flanks all night, the plaudits flooded in afterwards, no doubt raising a smile for all Spurs fans who have watched them do exactly the same for the last two seasons under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino.
Legendary former skipper Ledley was one of those smiling.
A world-class defender, the King of the Lane played 321 times for us between 1999-2012 and was there when Danny (2007) and Kyle (2009) joined us from Leeds and Sheffield United respectively.
Below: Danny and Kyle warm-up at the Lane
Ledley on Kyle
"I first saw Kyle play for Sheffield United and I thought he looked a very good prospect back then. He joined Spurs at a young age, went on loan, came back and made the position his own. You could see his potential - here was a player who was going to be a fixture in the team for years to come.
"Having said that, Kyle had to be patient, there were a few more experienced players in front of him at the time and it was a matter of biding his time, playing football out on loan and finding his way into the team.
"He did that in 2011-12 and I could see straight away that he was such an athlete, he had that potential but still lots of growth to come and that was great. As he’s got older, he’s learned his position more and he’s one of the best full-backs around now."
Kyle is playing the best football of his career after a tough 18 months where he was halted by injuries. It's a situation Ledley knows all about after battling a chronic knee problem for years.
Ledley: "It takes a while to get back to your levels and it’s a testing time whenever you are out for a long period, there are tough moments and it takes time to get things right again. It does allow you to reflect on your game, what you want to do and where you want to be when you get back playing. Kyle has come back stronger than ever."
Below: Danny on target against Liverpool
Ledley on Danny
"Danny joined the club as a midfielder, but once he played at full-back, I thought he was brilliant. There were a few things he needed to work on but he’s always been a tenacious character, Danny, he never gave anyone a second in training.
"He always had that defensive part to his game, so it was just about learning the position. He’s done that and made the position his own, for England as well now.
"As a young kid, sometimes you work with the senior lads and you can be a bit in awe, a bit stand-offish, but not Danny, he got stuck in straight away and that’s one his greatest strengths, he’s a real competitor."
Below: Kyle in action at Everton
'Two of the best full-backs around'
Ledley: "The way they’ve developed is incredible. Their speed makes them so difficult to beat in one-on-one situations and that means when you come up against quick players, for instance, Raheem Sterling in the City game, you don’t worry about that side of it as much.
"We’ve seen for the last couple of years the pair of them bombing forward, providing the width and they’ve taken it to international level now. They are two of the best full-backs around with everything modern-day full-backs need in terms of pace, very good one-on-one, energy to burn, high fitness levels and that ability to get up and down the pitch."
Below: Ledley in his heyday at the Lane
'The game has changed'
Ledley: "In my time, there was no emphasis to get forward for full-backs. It was about tucking in with the centre-halves and positional, but it’s all changed now. Modern-day full-backs have to be so fit and have the speed not just to attack with pace, but to be able to recover as well. A lot of the game is played through the full-backs and they are vital in this team. These two are a big reason why we’re performing at such a high level."