Tottenham Hotspur captain Ledley King finally announced his retirement on Thursday after battling chronic knee problems for several years.
King, who was regarded as one of the most naturally gifted English defenders of his generation, has been unable to completely recover from a series of knee injuries that ravaged his career and stopped him fulfilling his vast potential.
The problems made it impossible for the centre-back to train regularly and drastically reduced the number of games he was able to play each season. The 31-year-old admitted the decision to quit was tough but, after spending his entire career at the club, he could not consider playing on elsewhere.
"I would like to say thank you to everyone at the club and to the fans. I have missed a lot of football over the years but the Spurs fans have always been patient and incredibly supportive with me during difficult periods," said King, who will remain involved with Tottenham as a club ambassador.
"Sadly my injuries and inability to train have now finally brought an end to my career," he continued. "I have been here since I was a boy, I have always considered it my club and have always found it hard to imagine wearing the shirt of another team.
"I know that being a one-club man is a rarity these days but I have always enjoyed being part of the set-up here and the challenge of putting this club up with the elite where it should be."
London-born King came through the youth ranks at Spurs before stepping up to the first team in 1998. He made 268 appearances for Tottenham but his only major silverware came in 2008 with victory over Chelsea in the League Cup final. King also won 21 caps for England, making his debut against Italy in 2002 and appearing at UEFA EURO 2004 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy hailed King's impact at the club and his determination to keep playing for as long as possible despite constant knee pain.
"Ledley has made a magnificent contribution to this club -- as a wonderful player, captain and ambassador," Levy said.
"It has been well documented how he has battled against injury over the years and it is testament to the character of the man how he managed to sustain such high standards of performance on the pitch, while providing such fine leadership.
"It is in an ambassadorial capacity that Ledley will continue, playing a crucial role in supporting the club's work in the community, whilst also being a hugely positive role model for our younger players."