Ledley King backs injured Spurs duo to achieve England World Cup dreams in future
PUBLISHED: 12:02 13 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:09 13 May 2014
Ledley King is certain that Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend will represent England at a major tournament in future after their World Cup heartbreak.
The Spurs duo started the Three Lions’ penultimate qualifying match against Montenegro in October, lining up together on the right-hand side – and Townsend also started the final qualifier against Poland.
However, injuries have robbed both players of their chance to be selected, and there are no Spurs players in England’s World Cup squad for the first time in 60 years.
King, who was one of five Tottenham players who went to South Africa in 2010, said:
“I’ve spoken to both of them actually and I’ve said that it’s disappointing but they’re both young enough.
“They need to get their injuries right and make sure they come back next season ready to play again. I’ve got no doubt that they’ll play in a World Cup or European Championship.
“Time’s on their side but they need to make sure they get themselves right again. You don’t want to be having niggly injuries throughout your career, so it’s important they get this right, take their time over the summer and come back next season.
“Obviously they’re very disappointed but they are young enough and I don’t believe this will be their last opportunity to make a World Cup, so having that comfort will drive them on.
“They need to make sure they’re ready to go for the next season and then make sure that their form’s good enough that they will make the next tournament.”
King was speaking after his testimonial match, as a Ledley Guest XI featuring a host of his former Spurs team-mates beat Tottenham’s current first-team squad 6-3 at a packed White Hart Lane.
King opened the scoring himself with a penalty and, although Emmanuel Adebayor equalised with a spot-kick at the other end, a Teddy Sheringham double gave the legends a 3-1 half-time lead.
The first team fielded a young side full of academy prospects for the second period, and Nathan Oduwa quickly pulled a goal back, but Louis Saha hit a second-half hat-trick, rendering Etienne Capoue’s strike little more than a consolation.
King, who played for almost an hour, was dewy-eyed as he thanked the fans for their support throughout his career and left the pitch after the game.
He reflected: “It was a great day for me, the turn-out was unbelievable - the team that I managed to get together, the players coming back to the Lane to support me was tremendous, and then there was the current team. We saw the past and the present there and it was just an all-round great day. I’m very proud.
“From the first whistle to the last the atmosphere was unbelievable – in the rain as well. It was emotional out there, finally walking off the pitch for the last time knowing I really am never going out onto that pitch again to play.
“When we started planning, we weren’t sure how it was going to come together because we had the Europa League at the time so we had the possibility of making the final - and obviously it’s a World Cup year so we weren’t sure who could play.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to work out but we managed to bring the players together, which was great, and I think it worked best for the fans, who got to see some of their old favourites again - and it took some of the heat off me as well!
“I tried my hold my feelings in, but right at the end it caught me a little bit. I tried to hold it together but it was emotional. The fans, the support they’ve given me throughout my career, seeing my old team-mates there - it was emotional.”
King, who has an ambassadorial role at Tottenham, is now looking ahead and aiming to put more time into gaining his coaching qualifications next season.
“I’ll be travelling with the team over pre-season [as an ambassador] so I just have to work out when’s the time that I can do it – probably when the season starts,” he said. “I’ll look to get that going and knuckle down and do my coaching.
“It’s something that I think I want to do. It’s important that I do the badges and then go from there. I still have that love for football and I still love the game, and I still think that further down the line I’d have something to offer on a different side.
“I’ve worked with some of the young players that you saw out there [in the second half of the testimonial] in the past, doing my coaching badges - and there are some really good, talented players. I didn’t enjoy chasing them around tonight!
“Hopefully, like I’ve done working with them in the past, I can give them a bit of knowledge about the hard work that’s needed to play at the top level.
“We’ve got world-class facilities at the training entre and I’m able to use them, as well as the younger players. That’s what I’ve done in the last season and it’s been great so I hope to continue with that.”
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