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Tottenham's King-pin

Spurs star talks about losing to Arsenal and his ongoing knee ailment

Johnny Phillips - Johnny Phillips Posted 1st March 2012 view comments

Getting footballers to front up after a bad defeat can be awkward.

Getting them to front up after having five goals thumped past them by their arch rivals and, in the process, possibly ending all hopes of the title, can be even trickier - but Ledley King isn't a normal footballer.

King: Spurs' influential skipper

King: Spurs' influential skipper

Every time he takes to the pitch he defies medical opinion. A knee with no cartilage shouldn't stand up to the demands of Premier League football but King ensures that it does. Answering a few questions for Soccer Saturday is child's play in comparison.

So let's not beat about the bush then, Ledley. Why on earth did it go so wrong against Arsenal on Sunday? "Even at 2-0 I felt we needed to make changes. They were coming at us in floods" he said.

King has made a key impact on the pitch this season, playing many more games than most fans expected. That he has performed so well despite having to manage his persistent and chronic knee injury is all the more admirable.

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"We didn't get to halftime with a lead but even so, 2-2 at The Emirates is not the end of the world and you go on and try to win it.

"But we didn't give ourselves the opportunity and conceded very early in the second half. After that we were just chasing it and got picked off. It was very disappointing."

The defeat probably ended Spurs hopes of the title, but the club's longest-serving player is proud of what has already been achieved this season. "We've never really been involved in a title challenge before and it took us a few games to realise that" he added.

"After the first couple of games we went on a run and as the season has progressed we've gone from strength to strength and we're in a great position, even though it looks like the title challenge is fading."

Heart

King is Spurs through and through. When I caught up with him this week he was mentoring a project with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation at White Hart Lane Community Centre in the heart of the borough of Haringey. 'Skills is a sports and education programme for 12-19 year olds, many of whom have been identified as not in education, employment or training.

"I grew up in inner-city London myself," the defender said. "The chance to create an opportunity for youngsters to develop skills is a great idea. It gives a sense of achievement to them and I hope I can help affect a positive change in the lives of young people in the area by backing this project."

King has made a key impact on the pitch this season, playing many more games than most fans expected. That he has performed so well despite having to manage his persistent and chronic knee injury is all the more admirable.

"I've always said I can manage the knee, but with not training it's the muscles that you can't prepare for the intensity of the Premier League," he explained.

"The medical team are great. We're all working together trying to find new things and testing them to see how they work. It's not ideal, you'd rather be on the training ground, but as a professional you have to do what you can to get on the pitch."

As a result the 31-year-old has become more analytical of the game, studying match footage in greater detail than his team-mates during his time away from regular training.

It's given him an understanding of the game that is borne out in the way he reads the play. "Sometimes watching a game can last a few hours just by replaying incidents over and over. It's something I enjoy doing and it helps me to get into a game mode", he added.

Formality

Kingadmits that in some matches he doesn't always feel at the peak of his performance levels but for Harry Redknapp he has been an integral part of the team's success.

The club captain goes into Sunday's match against Manchester United knowing that it is in these games that they are now being judged. A Champions League place should be a formality from here. Regularly beating the two Manchester clubs is the next step.

"Competing against them and having your fair share of results is something I haven't done nearly enough in my career against Manchester United. It's something I believe we have the capability of doing at this time. They can't afford too many defeats either so it's got the makings of a big game."

Chatting to King it's clear he is enjoying being part of a fantastic team, which he believes is on the cusp of going on to greater things. This may be his 14th season as a professional at the club, but it is the future of this team which excites him most.

You can see the full interview with Ledley King on this week's Soccer Saturday from 12pm on Sky Sports News HD.

Comments (4)

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Oli Fitzsimons (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

A consummate and dedicated pro, well done Ledders, keep it up for next years Champions Leagu!. Along with Dawson and Parker, Spurs have got a fine bunch of English gents on board, COYS

Posted 16:12 1st March 2012

Gareth Baker says...

The man is a legend - end of

Posted 15:32 1st March 2012

Michael Thomas says...

What a servant for the club, one of the few players we have had in the last 10 or 12 years that is in the world class bracket and has shown loyalty. He has lost all his pace that he once had due to the knee and not being able to train. On the whole he has performed well this season, however in the big games against City away and Arsenal at the weekend he had poor games and made mistakes which led to goals. However it says a lot that he still walks into the team even half fit, in a top 3 or 4 side in the toughest league in the world.

Posted 14:45 1st March 2012

Ben Warwick says...

A true legend of the game and I hope not only spurs fans can appreciate all he has done and all he endures to play for the club. Its such a shame he has had his knee problem as even with it he has still been the best English center half over the last 10 years.

Posted 13:57 1st March 2012

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