Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The King is nearly dead... Long live the King.

Tottenham's Captain Ledley King is among the last of a dying breed. 

 They say a week is a long time in politics, if this week is anything to go by, it’s also a long time in football. I started the week djing at the Spurs Show end of season podcast at the Bethnal Green working men’s club, hosted by comedian Phil Cornwell and Mike Leigh. I arrived at 6.15 and sat there in front of me were Tottenham legends Terry Naylor, Mickey Hazard and Graham Roberts, Hazard greeted me like an old friend with a pat on the back and instantly made me feel welcome, Naylor was a lot less intimidating than the tough tackling full back who gave no mercy during his long career at White Hart Lane. And Graham Roberts was an absolute gent, it was hard to believe he was one of the most feared hard men in English football in those distant days before you’d get sent off for kicking a ball away. 23044592


Roberts during the FA Cup Final in 1981. He also had 3 teeth kicked out by his own teamate in the same game. And carried on playing!
Roberts was one of my all time Tottenham heroes, a man who gave his all on the pitch having joined Spurs from non league Weymouth in 1980 and winning the FA Cup in 1981 and 1982 before captaining the side to the UEFA Cup in 1984.  He was sold in December 1986 in a move that disappointed not only the White Hart Lane faithful but Roberts himself  “I never wanted to leave Tottenham” he said during the interview while making everyone know exactly who was to blame for his departure.  It showed the same passion he had when he pulled that white shirt on a Saturday afternoon (yep, that’s when they used to play football matches). For Naylor and Hazard, the feeling was the same, these are men who loved their time at Tottenham and would gladly do anything to be involved today, they still talk of “us” and “we” like all fans do of “their” club. Later on they were joined by Martin Chivers, a striker who spent 9 years at Spurs after leaving his home town club Southampton. He famously fell out with the legendary manager Bill Nicholson before joining Swiss side Servette, then Norwich and finally returning to White Hart Lane as a match day host and becoming great friends with Nicholson. Footballers like these are very rare today, most are inaccessible, greedy and do not share the same passion for the club they play for as the supporters do. Which is why today’s news that current Spurs captain Ledley King could be about to retire is so sad. King is one of the last of the “one club players”, a player who has spent 13 years in the first team and given his all for his club despite the crippling knee injury that has prevented him from gaining more England caps and club appearances.  Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard at Liverpool and John Terry at Chelsea all serve their clubs well, off the field Gerrard and Terry have been the subject of high profile accusations and even court cases, Gerrard for assault and Terry due to face accusations of racism.  King himself has not been free of scandal, though his has been nothing more than a few drunken escapades in Mayfair nightclubs.  Had King’s knee not been such a problem, who knows where he may have ended up, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC and Inter Milan would all have craved his ability, he may have still stayed at Spurs and led them to greater things.  King has stated that he won’t play for another club and hopes to be involved at Tottenham in some capacity. Whatever happens, English football is about to lose a dying breed on the pitch, a truly gifted footballer who doesn’t complain, fall over thin air and feign injury and is without doubt, the best centre half of his generation. The King is nearly dead, long live the King.
Ledley King after scoring against the old enemy.
 With Graham Roberts, 28th May 2012. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Originally published on 2nd June 2012. Ledley King did indeed announce his retirement and now works as an ambassador for Tottenham Hotspur.

1 comment:

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