The former Tottenham centre back celebrates his 36th birthday and is regarded as one of the very best at White Hart Lane.
Happy birthday Ledley King!
One of Tottenham’s greatest living legends celebrates his 36th birthday today (October 12th) often playing through the pain barrier just to put on a Spurs shirt.
King’s career was cut woefully short due to a chronic knee injury that meant he could only play one game a week, but when he did play, bloody hell he was a beast of a defender and a natural leader at White Hart Lane.
No cartilage wasn’t going to stop the England centre back from playing, although it did eventually beat him, just 321 appearances in 13 years forced King to call it a day in 2012, but the legacy will always remain and the dedication to get himself fit – often just swimming in Spurs’ pool without playing any football until game day, is the stuff of legend.
King was the complete centre back who was let down by only having one fully functional knee (as the famous song goes) but the “absolute freak” as christened by Harry Redknapp, gave Spurs fans plenty of moments in a white shirt and we’ve picked out five of the best to celebrate his birthday.
1. The fastest goal scored in Premier League history
It takes some doing for a defender to score the quickest ever goal in the Premier League after just 10 seconds, but that’s what King did, although he was technically playing in midfield at the time.
In December 2000 away at Bradford, King found himself with a bit of room and opened the scoring with a deflected strike taking everyone by surprise.
Probably should have focused more on the defensive side of things however as the match went on to finish 3-3.
2. Captaining Spurs to victory over Chelsea
26 years is a long time and that’s exactly how long Tottenham had been waiting for the beat Chelsea in the league. Even longer at White Hart Lane.
But King led his side to a 2-1 win over the reigning Premier League champions in November 2006 with goals from Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon doing the trick.
But it wasn’t about the goals it was about this amazing tackle from King to catch up with Arjen Robben who is a pretty nippy fellow and to do it on one knee is even more astounding.
Bet that was sore afterwards.
3. Captaining Spurs to victory over Chelsea… again
The only major honour of his career, King was patched up in time to face Chelsea in the League Cup final of 2008 where luckily his knee didn’t fall off after playing for 120 minutes.
It was centre back partner Jonathan Woodgate who scored the winner in extra time, with the win all the more sweeter considering it was Chelsea.
Sadly the only trophy King would win, but he did reach the League Cup final the next season but lost to Manchester United on penalties.
4. Securing Champions League qualification
Arguably the biggest game in Spurs’ history up to that point. A win would guarantee Champions League qualification for Spurs ahead of opponents Manchester City, while anything else would set up a nervy finish for the rest of the season.
King was part of a stern defence that refused to be bullied by Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez and with less than 10 minutes to go, Peter Crouch popped up to seal fourth place for Spurs.
The opportunity to play in Europe’s elite club competition was no more than King’s ability deserved which eventually led to…
5. First Champions League win
… the club’s first ever win in the Champions League! After drawing 2-2 with Werder Bremen in their first group game, White Hart Lane played host to FC Twente in their first ever home game in the competition proper.
For King to lead Spurs out at such an event would no doubt have been a very proud moment and a 4-1 win sent everybody home very happy, apart from if you travelled from the Netherlands.
Sadly King would go on to make just two more appearances in the competition as he was seriously struggling with his knee, but at least he played a part in Spurs’ impressive run to the quarter finals and had a taste of Champions League action before bowing out and hanging up his boots.