Ledley King – the best of a generation?

For a player who’s training and match time is hampered severely through his persistent injury problems, specifically the issue with his knee, it speaks volumes that Spurs and England centre back Ledley King is still regarded as one of the best around, and people genuinely bemoan what could have been had the defender been fit enough to play international football.

For a national side that has never been short of quality centre backs, it is remarkable that King could have walked into the back four for England, and was called the ‘best English centre half’ by manager Capello. The issue with King is that due to a chronic knee problem, amongst other injury issues, he cannot train and is always a doubt for games. To rely on him during an International Tournament and include him in the squad when frankly he could be a waste of a space through injury is something managers are simply not prepared to do.

The question of if this is King’s loss or England’s is one that is certainly something to ponder, yet for a player who simply loves playing football, 21 England caps when he was capable of so many more will be somewhat of a disappointment to the player. It is obviously a loss for England, and player aside, King is a leader and a respected member of any team he plays in, offering so much more than just the ability to defend.

King has in his armoury not just steel when defending, but masses of ability in the air and possesses a beautiful touch when playing the ball. Unlike a centre back such as John Terry, King has the vision and ability to play the ball instead of hoofing it up field, and has a vision not usually found in a defender – this coupled with the sheer pace King possesses makes him vital to any team he plays in. Any Spurs fan understand the sigh of relief Redknapp has when King declares himself fit to play, and without him, the team look far less compact, organised or solid at the back.

Dubbed a ‘freak’ by his club manager for being able to play at the highest level without training – King’s training now consists of lengths in the swimming pool – the player is certainly something of an enigma, and his determination and will just to play the game he loves is a refreshing change when compared to players such as Harry Kewell, who play football just because they are gifted and are not really in love with the game.

Should he manage to play more than 20 games this season, a new deal will be put on the table by Spurs, yet with King being able to boast that thus far in 2011-2012 he has played 9 times – more than in the whole of the last campaign and that Spurs are unbeaten when he has started, smart money would be on Levy putting a lucrative offer on the table for someone who is quite honestly the best defender Spurs have. The player feels that there ‘are a lot of games left in me’ and how Spurs fans will be thankful of that. Sadly for England fans, international football may be a step too far, and what a loss that is.