A Spurs mate told me he thought King was the best English defender of the past 20 years. But when I asked him to sum him up in five words he said: “Better than that **** Campbell.”
And here’s the rub. Here’s what separates the wheat from the chaff in the eyes of a fan.
Here’s the reason why King has been given a job for life as a club ambassador and goes down as an all-time legend. Because he only ever had eyes for the club which nurtured him as a kid and stood by him as a man. And we treasure that mindset above all others.
It’s why one-club players may not make the most money out of football, but they end up with the most love, and leave a far superior legacy to the glory-hunters and the money-grabbers.
The one-club men earn admiration, not just from their own supporters but all genuine, objective fans. Regardless of who you support, who would you rather buy a pint for: Sol Campbell or Ledley King? Ashley Cole or Tony Adams? Michael Owen or Jamie Carragher/Steven Gerrard? David Beckham or Gary Neville/Paul Scholes? Alan Smith or Gary Kelly? Any Saint on God’s earth or Matt Le Tissier?
They’re the Maldinis, Tottis, Rauls and Baresis of English football. Names that will always be spoken with deference and respect.
Because they exhibited throughout their careers the one true quality football fans prize highest in their heroes: loyalty.
Which buys something banknotes never can: Immortality.
To wish Ledley King a happy retirement is futile. He’s guaranteed one.
so in the wake of Ledley King's retirement from Spurs: who are your favourite one-club men?
personally, mine would be John Terry, Paolo Maldini and Oka Nikolov. oh and i almost forgot: despite everything, Tony Adams.
Not trying to knock the likes of Scholes, Giggs, Casillas etc, but staying at one club for your whole career isn't really much of a hardship when you're challenging for league titles and the champions league every year at one of the biggest clubs in the world.