Harry Kane’s recent departure ended the striker’s long history with Tottenham Hotspur, having joined the club in his early teens before ascending to become the club’s main man.
While he was never a true one-club guy due to his loan periods in the lower divisions, the 30-year-old was one of the few players in the modern era to have spent their whole career on the books at the same club.
Although the prolific marksman remains the club’s all-time greatest scorer, the fact that he chose to move on elsewhere may have tainted his standing as a real club star, with Spurs fans having been hurt by ‘one of their own’.
For all of Kane’s magical moments in Lilywhite, he may fall short of cult hero status, which another famous academy alumnus, Ledley King, unquestionably has.
How good was Ledley King?
Like Kane, the now-retired defender began his career at the White Hart Lane academy before breaking into the first-team set-up in the late 1990s, eventually becoming a stalwart of the side until his retirement in 2012.
While memorably plagued by injury, the dominant centre-back was a truly classy operator when he was fit and available, with former teammate Darren Bent having said of his talents in the recent past:
“So many players would ask the question throughout the week, is Ledley going to be fit because you always felt when he was on the pitch, and certainly when he was in that partnership with Jonathan Woodgate, you would go we’ve got a chance today.
‘It was just lead by example, defend properly, never get himself in danger, always comfortable on the ball. If he didn’t have the injuries that he had, he would’ve been one of the best this country’s seen.”
How many appearances did Ledley King make for Tottenham?
As Bent alluded to, King was undoubtedly a real leader for the club after taking on the captain’s armband in 2005, ensuring he remains the last Spurs skipper – alongside Robbie Keane – to have held a trophy aloft, following the club’s League Cup success in 2008.
Although a swift retirement would follow just four years later for the then-31-year-old due to injury, that relatively short career did not impact the centre-back’s legendary status, as he bowed out with 323 appearances to his name in all competitions.
Simply “one of the best” who had “everything in abundance” – according to compatriot Andy Cole – King was a truly gifted defender when in his pomp, with Spurs likely to be lucky to be graced with such a remarkable academy talent again.
That being said, however, one such exciting centre-back could well now be emerging to potentially emulate the former England international, in the form of teenage sensation, Alfie Dorrington.
Who is Alfie Dorrington?
A summer of change saw current boss Ange Postecoglou oversee something of a mass clearout, with the defensive unit, in particular, having been somewhat gutted following the departures of Japhet Tanganga, Joe Rodon and Davinson Sanchez.
With Eric Dier also out in the cold at present, that has left little depth behind the first-choice pairing of Micky van de Ven and Cristian Romero, particularly with long-serving asset Ben Davies needed to also cover at left-back.
That has ensured that summer signing Ashley Phillips has rocketed up the pecking order despite still being only 18, while it may not be too long before young Dorrington is also making his mark in the first-team fold, having been hailed by journalist Alasdair Gold as “one of the most exciting centre-back prospects to emerge from Spurs’ academy in years”.
That appears to be a viewpoint that is shared by the powers that be at N17, with the towering 18-year-old having only recently signed a new contract until the summer of 2016 – after previously being described as a ‘commanding central defender’ by the club’s official website.
As Gold has also noted, it may not be too long before a chance in the senior set-up does emerge for the potential King heir, with the football.london reporter recently stating:
“Alfie Dorrington is also pushing his claims to have more first team involvement. And if there is a centre-back injury or two then he might just find himself among the first team subs. He’s a terrific young defender.”
How good is Alfie Dorrington?
The England U19 international has helped Spurs’ U21 side to secure six successive wins from their opening six games of the new Premier League 2 campaign, with the youngster having started in five of those fixtures in the centre of defence.
The 6 foot 3 titan also shone against senior opposition in the 5-0 win over Colchester United in the EFL Trophy last month, enjoying a 90% pass accuracy on the day as a sign of his composure on the ball, while also completing six ball recoveries and recording seven clearances.
That all-round performance appears to fit with the glowing assessment that was provided by club insider superhotspur back in 2022, with the respected source having written at the time:
‘Alfie Dorrington is a good passer of a football, and he is very capable of making long and accurate cross field diagonal passes. A strong defender, Alfie is a brave central defender who keeps good defensive positioning on the pitch. He is very good at making blocks and is also strong and decisive in the challenge’.
As the above source also noted, Dorrington is adept at carrying the ball out from the back as he ‘likes to go on surging and skilful forward runs out of defence’, as showcased in the win over Newcastle United earlier this season:
Of course, Postecoglou won’t be looking to fix something that isn’t broken following an unbeaten start to the campaign in the top flight, yet Dorrington should be under consideration as a genuine understudy to the likes of Van de Ven and Romero this season.
As has been seen with the case of King, true diamonds can be found in the academy if given the time to properly flourish