Ledley King has said he believes that Tottenham Hotspur’s ill-fated Champions League journey came to a premature end due to a lack of experience.
The ex-Spurs captain is of the opinion that Mauricio Pochettino’s youthful first-team squad lacked the knowledge to navigate to the knockout stages of UEFA’s primary club tournament, and that the club faced an uphill battle after poor results ahead of their final two group games.
Tottenham finished third in group E after taking just seven points from their six matches and, as a result, crashed out of the Champions League – a move Ledley puts down to not having played much football in the competition in the past.
He exclusively told 101 Great Goals: “It’s a young team, not much experience of playing in the Champions League, it is unfamiliar territory, you are playing at Wembley. We can’t give it as an excuse but it is something that the team had to deal with and you don’t get long to get it right.
“After the first two games, it became very difficult and we hadn’t had a whole season of playing with Wembley as our home yet, it was just a few games and we didn’t get the results we wanted and now we are out.
“So, it was a learning curve and an experience for everyone involved and obviously, we will bounce back!”
The North Londoners were granted somewhat of a reprieve in Europe by gaining a place in the Europa League last-32 due to their finishing position, and Ledley claims that Spurs should be going all out to win the trophy in a bid to gain access to next season’s Champions League.
He continued: “Yes, it’s an opportunity to gain Champions League football again and I want us to go out and win it. It’s another avenue into the Champions League so of course.”
The centre back, who was forced to retire earlier than expected due to a series of niggling knee injuries, was widely considered to be one of the finest English defenders of his generation and should have enjoyed a much longer playing career due to his undoubted talent.
When quizzed over whether he had any regrets from those days, the 36-year-old’s only slight remorse concerned his troublesome knee.
He added: “No. Never. Football was always for me, from a young age. I mean, there were certain mistakes, certain things I wish I had done better but the only thing I regret throughout my career, was my injury problem.
“I think I did my best on the pitch and played with 60% fitness a lot of the time, so no not really, I have no regrets.”