King, Ledley’s grandly and eponymously titled autobiography is an entertaining and easy read. Well written in partnership with Mat Snow, a former editor of Four Four Two, it’s essentially a chronological telling first of the Spurs icon’s early life and then the career we’re oh so familiar with, so familiar in fact that as he describes memorable games and episodes you feel you could copy and paste them straight into your own autobiography in the unlikely event, in my case anyway, that there should be a demand for it. I’m referring mainly to the England game v France in Portugal, the League Cup semi finals and final in 2008 and the 1-0 win at Middle Eastlands in 2010 that gave us Champions League football but there are many others.
Even though Ledley made his Spurs debut in 1999, many of the club’s highlights during the last 14 years don’t feature in the book as the author was absent from the fray, fighting his career long battle with injury. Bow legs and flat feet seem to be at the bottom of Ledley’s fitness problems, from orthotics in his boots to groundbreaking surgery and rehabilitation techniques, he tried just about everything he could to overcome the chronic knee problems that ultimately foreshortened his career. One of the passages I was most looking forward to reading was that which covered our Champions League adventure 3 seasons ago but that period is largely glossed over as, and I’d forgotten this personally, Ledley watched the majority of it from the sidelines whilst he once more fought to come back from injury. He makes clear the demoralising effect of having to spend so much time away from the team whenever there was rehabilitation work to be done. Team spirit is a constant theme throughout the book. From the moment King was taken under the wing of a local Bow family as a youngster his appreciation of the pleasure and help that sharing experiences as a family or team can bring is apparent.
Those expecting exotic or shocking revelations will be disappointed as there’s little to titillate. Comments about personalities are mostly just confirmation of what one already suspected or new, e.g. that Teddy Sheringham liked a drink, Scumbell was a bit of a loner and that Stephane Dalmat had a screw loose. It is though interesting to read about how much Santini and Ramos were undermined by their staff and what the latter thought of the players when he arrived and what they thought of him when he left.
The book has an unexpectedly melancholy air, mostly due to Ledley’s injuries playing a dominant role throughout but Spurs general underachievement in the ‘noughties’ doesn’t help. Ledley’s comment about the club’s glory game heritage being a hindrance at times is one of many thoughtful insights that make one think that when he completes his badges and moves into coaching, he’ll be as surefooted off the pitch as he was on it.
As well as the story of King’s career, the book is a history of Spurs in the 21st century. It’s not been the smoothest of journeys as we all know, but if you choose to use King to refresh your memories of it, as well as learn more about what makes the great man tick, you’ll be doing yourself a favour.
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