RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 06: Ledley King talks to the press after the England training session at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus on June 6, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
In a statement passed on through the club's official website this morning, long-serving club captain and Tottenham icon Ledley King announced that his playing days with the club, and in football generally, have come to an end.
"I have been here since I was a boy, I have always considered it my club and I have always found it hard to imagine wearing the shirt of another team", the 31 year-old central defender states. "Sadly my injuries and my inability to train have now finally brought an end to my career".
Ledley's role at the club is far from over, however. The club have also declared that King will remain with Tottenham in an ambassadorial role, described by Daniel Levy as "a crucial role in supporting the club's work in the community and the ongoing regeneration of the Tottenham area, whilst also being a hugely positive role model for our younger players".
King has been with the club for 17 years, making his debut in 1999 and breaking into the first team under Glenn Hoddle. He has also represented England 21 times over the course of his career. During this time, his name has become synonymous with courage, endurance, and determination in the face of ultimately insurmountable odds, as he struggled with a pervasive knee injury which dramatically reduced his capacity to play regularly and train. Rather than simply quit, King instead pushed his body to the limit week after week to play for Tottenham, and established himself as arguably the league's best centre back on his day playing through crippling pain.
I don't intend to turn this particular post into a full tribute to Ledley, as I'm sure those will come in the next few weeks. I feel I have to say, however, that his retirement is a loss not merely to us as fans, but a generation to whom he was a source of inspiration and a role model, and he will be remembered by a legion of admirers inside and outside the club as one of the club's greatest all-time leaders.