Many Spurs fans believe that Ledley King would have gone on to be one of England’s finest centre halves if it wasn’t for his long-term knee problems that recently forced him to retire from the beautiful game.
Even with his knee problems King has managed to make 71 Premier League appearances in the last four seasons, helping Spurs to keep 24 clean sheets in the process. The Spurs skipper also has the impressive statistic of only receiving 8 yellow cards in his Tottenham career.
So after King’s retirement we look at how well he has performed in the last four seasons, as well as how well he compared to Tottenham’s other centre backs last season. We will also look at how well King has performed in the last four years compared to England’s main centre back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.
Ledley King: Last four seasons
Ledley King has managed to play 5950 Premier League minutes in the last four seasons, which is an average of 1488 minutes each season – equivalent to 16 and a half matches, less than half of the 38 matches that Spurs play.
King also averaged a ground duel every 13 minutes and a successful ground duel every 20 minutes, with again 2010/2011 being his best season as he managed a ground duel every 8 minutes and a successful ground duel every 12 minutes. He also contested in an aerial duel every 13 minutes and a successful aerial duel every 22 minutes in that same season, which was way below his average of an aerial duel every 22 minutes and a successful aerial duel every 36 minutes.
King managed an interception every 37 minutes in the last four seasons, with his best season coming in the 2009/2010 season when he managed an interception every 29 minutes, compared to the season before that when he only managed an interception every 44 minutes.
Ledley also made a pass on average every 2.5 minutes and an accurate pass every 3 minutes, with his best passing statistics coming in the 2010/2011 season when he managed a pass every 2.1 minutes and last season when he managed an accurate pass every 2.4 minutes.
Although, most of Kings other statistics from last season were his worst out of all four seasons. This may have been an indication that he could just not continue playing at such a high level without completing any training during the weeks before matches.
Ledley King: Comparison with team-mates
To highlight this we have compared him against Tottenham’s other centre backs from last season, to see if he did make the right decision to retire from football.
King also came bottom in terms of how many minutes it took him to challenge a ground 50-50 last season (20 minutes), as Kaboul (9 minutes), Dawson (12 minutes) and Gallas (18 minutes) all entered into ground 50-50s more frequently than him. It also took King 31 minutes to win a ground 50-50 last season, which was 2 minutes longer than Gallas, 14 minutes longer than Dawson and 17 minutes longer than Kaboul.
Kaboul also entered into an aerial duel every 17 minutes last season, which was 1 minute more often than Dawson, 17 minutes more often than King and 27 minutes more often than Gallas. Kaboul and Dawson both won an aerial duel every 24 minutes, while it took King 53 minutes to win one and Gallas 66 minutes.
Dawson made an interception every 32 minutes in the limited time he played last season, which was 2 minutes more often than Kaboul and 4 minutes more often than both King and Gallas. Dawson, Gallas and Kaboul all made a pass every 1.9 minutes last season with King making a pass every 2.2 minutes. Gallas made a successful pass more often than his teammates though as he made a successful pass every 2.1 minutes, compared to Dawson and Kaboul who made a successful pass every 2.2 minutes and King, who made a successful pass every 2.4 minutes.
As you can see King did not compare very well to his teammates last season, which again shows why Ledley may have decided to finally hang up his boots. Although, these statistics do show just what an impressive season Kaboul had last season and prove that Spurs may already have a ready-made replacement in the Frenchman.
Ledley King Vs John Terry & Rio Ferdinand
So, King may not have had a brilliant season last season but he has still been a very important player for Spurs in his career. King has been a rock at the heart of the Spurs defence with many people claiming that without his knee injury he would be a starter for England. With this claim we look at how well King has compared to England’s most regular centre back pairing of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in the last four seasons.
Terry came out on top in terms of minutes per ground duel, as he challenged a ground 50-50 every 12 minutes while it took King 13 minutes and Ferdinand 17 minutes. Terry also won a ground 50-50 every 18 minutes while it took King 20 minutes to win a ground 50-50 and Ferdinand 24 minutes.
King entered into an aerial 50-50 on average every 22 minutes in the last four seasons, which was 5 minutes more often than Terry and 16 minutes more often than Ferdinand. King also won an aerial 50-50 every 36 minutes, which was 3 minutes more often than Terry and 20 minutes more often than Ferdinand.
King also made an interception more often than both Ferdinand and Terry in the last four seasons, as King made an interception every 37 minutes; Ferdinand made an interception every 38 minutes while Terry made an interception every 46 minutes.
King did come bottom in two statistics though – his minutes per pass and minutes per accurate pass statistics. King made a pass every 2.5 minutes, while Terry made a pass every 1.6 minutes and Ferdinand made a pass every 1.8 minutes. King also made an accurate pass every 3 minutes, while it took Terry 1.8 minutes and Ferdinand 2.1 minutes to make an accurate pass on average in the last four seasons.
These statistics do not give the full story though, as King’s ability to read the game, his positioning and leadership abilities cannot be measured by statistics. His presence on the pitch gave the players around him confidence and assurance that Spurs would be a better team with him than without him.
Ledley King’s ability to play at the highest level for so long without training during the week astounded so many people and massive credit must be given to the former Spurs skipper on just how well he performed for Spurs throughout his 13 seasons at the club.
It just leaves one final question than many Spurs fans will be asking themselves – Just how good would Ledley King have been if it was not for that injury? We will never know.