On Tottenham’s USA Tour 2018, Club Legend Ledley King Talks about His Proudest Spurs Moment and the excitement of the New Stadium & the Club’s Future
Former Tottenham Hotspur captain Ledley King “really enjoys his work” as Club Ambassador. Gregarious King spent his entire career playing 323 competitive matches for Spurs from 1999 to 2012, while also making 21 international appearances for England’s national team. So, he has an intimate knowledge of the progress that Tottenham has seen over the last twenty years in the Premier League, including: building world-class training facilities; now consistently competing in the UCL competition; and, very soon, moving into a brand new home, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is on the very site of the former and venerable White Hart Lane.
King, along with another former Spurs star, Darren Anderton, will be appearing at “Legends” events on the Tottenham USA Tour in San Diego (July 25), Los Angeles (July 28) and Minneapolis (July 31). He’s chuffed about the progress Spurs have made including the new stadium, which has been called a “game changer” when it comes to modern day sports venues.
Earlier this year, King visited the under-construction stadium, which opens this September, and was awed by all the attention to detail including using crushed aggregate from the former White Hart Lane venue in the concrete to produce a new concourse that will soon see fans essentially strolling on parts of their venerable old ground.
King exclaimed, “The Lane was home to me for most of my life, so what I’m doing is effectively walking on memories — just looking at it makes me a bit emotional. This is another example of how this incredible new stadium will really feel like home for all of us and shows that, as much as we are now about to enter into what is such an exciting new era for this Club and the area, our past will always be with us and the legacy of the Lane lives on.”
Q. How have you seen the Spurs’ fanbase grow in the US over the years?
“Last time I was in the States the turnout was comfortably the biggest I have seen since I have been visiting the USA. It was tremendous the support we received across America and is a great reflection on how well the club is doing. At the Supporters’ Club evening in Nashville along we had 1,700 fans in attendance! I think Americans can relate to Spurs because it is a team with great morals and values and working hard the right way to try and reach their goals. We are really grateful for the support we receive.”
Q. What has been your proudest day as a Spurs player?
“I would have to say when we won the Carling Cup (2007–08). Being captain, and having watched a lot of former Tottenham captains lift trophies for the Club I wanted to be one. I had played in a final when I was 21 and unfortunately lost. So I was determined when it came around again that we would win and it was an amazing feeling!”
Q. What’s it like being a Club Ambassador?
“I really enjoy the work. I truly enjoy seeing the smiles on people’s faces in our local community, among our fans and when we travel abroad on tour, it makes such a difference. The Club gives a lot of people life-changing opportunities, particularly through the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, our charitable body, and I’m lucky to be a part of that. The Club has created jobs and learning opportunities for local people in Tottenham. We want to invest in local people, it’s all part of our commitment to regenerate our local area. The new stadium is a big part of this but we have also delivered new homes, schools and a supermarket, which will all contribute to boosting the local economy.”
Q. Tottenham has always had a philosophy of playing attractive football with results — how does that begin in the Academy, where you started, and what has manager Mauricio Pochettino added to that philosophy?
“The philosophy remains throughout the Club. We try to develop players that express themselves. Obviously the facilities have come a long way and are world class now which is great for young players, and that is the major change. The philosophy throughout the Club is the same. Young players are able to make a smooth transition from Academy to first team. It’s important to have a manager like Mauricio who shows an interest in young players — he watches their games, keeps an eye on them, integrates them into first team training sessions. Players know they have a pathway which is the most important thing for a young player.”
Q. Under Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs have finished in the top-3 in the Premier League, three straight years — what else does he bring to the table?
“I haven’t worked under Mauricio but I know he is someone that is passionate about dedication and work ethic and wants players to work hard every day in training and improve themselves. I think when you have that, you are able to see the results, and they speak for themselves in his time at the Club. Every single player loves playing under him and working hard to improve.”
Q. Can you describe the evolution of the Club over the last few years?
“I think it has been a transition. When I was playing we went from a mid-table team to a team trying to get in the top four, then getting in the top four. And now Mauricio has taken us to the next level and competing to win the league. I think the hardest challenge is staying there. We have shown we are one of the best teams and if we keep going on the right path, hopefully a title will follow. Also, we have consistently qualified for the Champions League in the last three years and last season we beat teams like Dortmund, Madrid and should have beaten Juventus. Madrid were eventual winners and we beat them convincingly which shows the talent we have in the ranks. People know now we are a force in European football. Hopefully we can continue to progress, compete in later stages and hopefully eventually win the Champions League.”
Q. What’s been the impact of Tottenham’s Global Coaching program?
“The scheme provides fantastic opportunities for young players to benefit from the same methods of coaching that Academy players at Tottenham receive — the same Academy that has produced players like Harry Kane and Danny Rose who played for England at the recent World Cup. Hopefully these kids can develop as players and most importantly enjoy themselves too. It’s great for the local grassroots coaches that they receive guidance and support from our Global Football Development coaches to improve too. We’ve seen some really talented young players at the sessions we run both across the USA and globally.”
Tottenham Hotspur are currently on their USA Tour 2018, where their schedule has them playing AS Roma (San Diego), Barcelona (Los Angeles) and AC Milan (Minneapolis). Check out Club related Fan Events, and for local fan info, drop in on San Diego Spurs, LA Spurs and Minneapolis Spurs.