Ledley King's knee problems started in Tottenham debut

The recently retired former England defender has revealed that he effectively suffered from the problem that limited his involvement at White Hart Lane for his entire career
Recently retired Tottenham defender Ledley King has revealed that he suffered the knee injury that troubled him throughout his career during his senior debut.

King made his bow for Spurs nearly 13 years ago when he appeared against Derby County at Pride Park in October 1999.

During that match, the centre-back was on the receiving end of a tackle by Rory Delap that eventually resulted in King requiring surgery on his left knee, which frequently held him back thereafter.

"It's amazing that I played as long as I did really when I think back to that game at Pride Park," King told The Sun.

"It was my first start for Spurs, I was playing in midfield and after about 30 seconds I was clattered by Rory Delap.

"I just about managed to complete the game but I needed an operation on my left knee afterwards which kept me out for six weeks. I've been having operations on that knee ever since.

"You could say that was the start of the end and it was only four days after my 19th birthday."

King admitted that although he had eventually come to terms with his chronic injury problems, he still feels regret over the career he could have had without them.

"I quickly grasped that I was never going to be as good as I wanted to be but I still felt I could be very good," he explained.
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"It was probably most frustrating for the first year or so but it could have all been over after that first game so I came to accept how things were.

"There is a lot of disappointment though because I know it could have been different."

The 31-year-old expected to continue to play as much as possible at the start of last season but conceded defeat at the end of a campaign which he struggled to complete due to the condition, risking more serious complications.

"At the start of last season I felt my left knee was the same as it had been in the last five years and that I could keep going. I didn't envisage finishing," King said.

"Then, even though I knew I was struggling halfway through the season, my aim was to get to May, deal with it in the summer and come back again.

"But the surgeon said he didn't want me to end up with a knee replacement at a young age and that was what would happen if I played on. My knee felt terrible so I suppose it made the decision easy.

"But I admit there were a few tears because I always felt I could deal with it before. I'd always found a way to manage the situation and get through the season."