Ledley King is confident he can step up to the mark on a regular basis at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ should Fabio Capello opt to take him on the plane to South Africa, having made it through his first international game in three years in England’s 3-1 win over Mexico. With 90 minutes of international football now under his belt, King is sure that his knee problem can cope with the stresses of a FIFA World Cup™ campaign.
The Tottenham Hotspur defender was disappointed with his performance against Javier Aguirre’s side, despite marking his comeback with a Wembley goal. “It wasn’t one of my best performances,” he told FIFA.com. “But you just have to dig deep when you don’t feel that you’re playing right and stick in there and try and improve. It’s always nice to score, but that wasn’t the important thing. The important thing was for me to try and get through the 90 minutes and try and stake claim for the World Cup squad.
“Towards the end of the season I managed to play three games in a week, so I do know I can do it,” said King. “Probably not over a whole season or every game. But over a short period I definitely can do it, with the medical team that we have there and the right recovery. Fabio Capello has been brilliant, he said do what you do at Tottenham, and the medical team here have done that with me. It’s been great.”
Tottenham physiotherapist Nathan Gardiner has linked up with the England squad during their preparations to allow King to continue with the same fitness programme that allowed the injury-plagued defender to shine at White Hart Lane last season.
The fact that King has become known for his fitness battles in recent years, rather than his undoubted natural talent is one of the cruellest facts in football. However, slowly but surely, the defensive colossus has defied the odds and now finds himself on the brink of fulfilling a boyhood ambition that, at one stage, looked out of reach.
“People are always going to judge me on my fitness,” he said. “I’ve missed a lot of games so it’s normal, but hopefully once I am playing on a regular basis people will stop doing that. I believed I could play at this level, but I did start to have my doubts with the way the knee was going. It probably is a little bit of a surprise how the season turned round in the end. It’s every guy’s dream to go to a World Cup,” he added. “It’s something that I’ve watched since I was a young boy, so it’ll be a dream to play in it.”