Friday, April 11, 2008

Here we reproduce an interview with our captain Ledley King which appeared on Enjoy:
You really upset the odds in the Carling Cup Final, has it sunk it yet?
Yeah it has to be honest. It came and went so quickly because we had so many league and UEFA Cup games around that time, so there wasn't really time to dwell on it. When you play a team like Chelsea in a final you know you're going to have to be at your best. We went in as underdogs and that took a bit of pressure off of us. We were able to relax and just give it our all.
A lot of the players hadn't won anything before or even played in a final so the dressing room was an emotional place afterwards, but I think that's what gave us that extra determination to win. For me personally, with the season that I've had with injuries, the chance to come back and play at Wembley and then to win was like a dream.

Were there times you thought you'd never have a moment like that?
Yeah maybe, I've been playing for a long time now. The last time I played in a final (the 2002 League Cup final defeat to Blackburn) I was only 21 and at that age you take it for granted that these things will come round again quickly. But I ended up having to wait six years to play in my next final.

How knackering was it walking up all those steps having played two hours of football?
It was tough! Maybe one of the toughest parts of the day (laughs)! It seemed like those steps were going to go on forever, but knowing that when you get to the top you'll be picking up a trophy certainly helps.

How much of that Carling Cup success is down to Juande Ramos?
Without wanting to take anything away from Martin Jol, a lot of it. The new manager has come in and when you look at what he was able to win with Sevilla; back-to-back UEFA Cups and domestic trophies in Spain, you obviously know that you've got a manager who's a winner. That has really has rubbed off on the team, all of a sudden there is a belief that we can win things and that really helped us against Chelsea. His knowledge and reading of the game are superb; he always knows what needs to be done to beat the opposition.

How's his English coming along, does he shout at the players in English yet?
He's quite calm. His emphasis is more on hard work than shouting and being aggressive, so he doesn't shout too much. His English has improved a lot in the short time he's been here, I've been impressed. But with Gus Poyet and Marcos Alvarez (Spurs' new fitness coach) both speaking really good English anyway there really hasn't been any problem at all.

A lot has been said about the changes to the players' diets and training under the new manager. What have the main differences actually been?
I think the press have maybe gone a little bit over the top about it all. When he first arrived he had us working very hard, we started off with double sessions with a lot of running and clearly his first thoughts when he arrived were to make us a lot fitter. Some of the food that we eat has been changed but it wasn't as severe as has been documented in some places. It's been more subtle changes really.

Will you miss all the Jaffa Cakes?
If the manager says he wants us to cut things out we'll give it a try and we're certainly not complaining at the moment. There used to be a few Jaffa Cakes laying about but I'm sure other teams still have them. But we all want to be the best players we can be and the changes in the diet seem to be helping.

How does he differ to Martin Jol?
There are some similarities. Both of them like the team to get the ball down and play, you can see that from how we've played over the last few years, but now there's that extra emphasis on our fitness and our diet. I think we've always had good players, we finished fifth in the last two seasons so Martin Jol was obviously doing something right. We're growing up as a group of players and we're starting to realise that we need to reach our potential. With the manager's help, along with Gus and Marcos, we're looking to move to the next level. Sometimes you just need a bit of change to do that.

And where is that next level?
The top four is definitely what we have to look at. Me and the rest of the players are all desperate to play in the Champions League, that's our dream and we still see that as the next step. At the same time we want to have more cup runs and win more trophies but we need to be a lot more consistent to achieve that.

Ah, the ‘c' word. Is consistency the key to breaking the ‘Big Four' then?
Definitely. We've proven that we're a talented side and that on our day we can beat the top teams, so it really boils down to being able to grind out the results every week and build the points to be able to challenge the top sides all season. We aren't that far away from it, we've got a good squad and I think we'll probably strengthen again in the summer.

How important is it to keep Dimitar Berbatov? How good is he?
He's a top player, one of the best about at the moment. It goes without saying that you don't want to lose your top players and I think us having just won a trophy might just give him the belief that we might be going places. I think the way he plays sometimes gets misconstrued as sulking, but that's just him. He's a quiet player but he's very passionate about his football. I've played with some very good players over the years but I think his touch is possibly the best I've seen. The way he pulls the ball down out of the air is incredible. You can play him a bad ball and he can make it look good. I'm sure the club will be doing everything they can to keep hold of him.
How much of a boost was it that Fabio Capello picked you in his first England squad so soon after your initial comeback from injury?
It was a huge boost. It was actually a little bit catch 22 because, although I was back playing, I still didn't feel that I was right with my knee and I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to train. But it was great to know I was in his thoughts after only a couple of games. I'm desperate to play for England but at the moment I'm still searching for the consistency of playing games every week. I want to make sure I'm 100% before I start to really think about England again.
You've obviously had more than your share of time on the treatment table. Can you explain to us exactly what the latest problem has been?
I was playing on an injured knee for a few seasons, but at the time it didn't really seem like a major problem. Gradually I just made it worse and when I eventually did have the operation it was maybe a little bit more complex than it should have been. I always want to play if I feel I can and at the time the injury was there but I could play through it. I made the decision to keep playing until I really had to have the operation.

How frustrating is it not to be able to play week in, week out? At what stage do you hope/expect to be able to play twice a week again?
As a player when you've been out for six months what you really need are matches in order to get back to full fitness and consistency, so it's been difficult playing one game and then missing out in the next three. I'm still searching for that fitness because I'm not playing week in week out but we had important games that I really wanted to play in and I felt that if I could get myself right for certain games it would help the team.
I'm not sure exactly when I'll be back playing twice a week again. Now my main aim is to prepare myself for next season and do everything possible to ensure that I don't have any problems next year.

There have been rumours that you may even be forced to retire due to your injuries, is there any truth in this? Does this get you down or give you determination to prove the doubters wrong?
I've read a lot of stories about my situation over the last few weeks but I honestly believe that when I do finally get it all right there won't be any more problems in the future. It's just talk. I've heard it but I have no idea where it came from. It's never nice to read stuff like that about yourself but I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anyone, all I want to do is play football. I'm not retiring, let's put it that way.

1 comment:

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