Tottenham’s youth team is not a regular breeding ground of fantastic players. However, 3 of its finest have been central defenders. Will the latest player that has broken into the team live up to his potential and become a regular first team footballer for both club and country?
Age of debut:
Sol Campbell – 18
Ledley King – 18
Steven Caulker – 18
Sol Campbell – 6ft 2
Ledley King – 6ft 2
Steven Caulker 6ft 3
While many Tottenham fans will find it hard to forgive him for moving across north London, Campbell remains one of the greatest defenders Spurs have produced. Campbell was strong, quick and a big unit. His sheer presence unnerved many a striker. He also always seemed to make important blocks. Campbell captained the Spurs side to the League Cup victory in 1998/99 season. Campbell has 73 caps for England.
King’s reading of the game earmarked him as one of the true greats of football. He had decent pace, but his reading of a situation meant he didn’t need blistering pace. King won many of the tackles he went in for and made countless interceptions. He was also very comfortable on the ball and liked to play his way out of trouble. Barring injuries he could and should have had many more than the 21 caps for England he earned. Harry Redknapp labelled King “an absolute freak” for being able to perform at the level he did without training. Jamie Redknapp said of him “He is like a magnet for the ball, a thoroughbred of a defender, the best centre-half in the country.” Ledley King received only 8 yellow cards in his whole career. He captained Tottenham to the League Cup in the 2007/08 season.
Caulker seems to have the edge out of the 3 in the air. He’s very dominant, and that’s what we need both when defending and taking corners. So he might score 5-8 goals a season from set-pieces,which was rare for King and Campbell. Caulker has enjoyed a good start to his Tottenham career following 3 successful loan spells. Caulker spent the 2009/10 season on loan at Yeovil Town, where he made 44 appearances. The following season Caulker joined Bristol City on loan. During his time with The Robins Caulker won the young player of the year award and was a nominee for player of the year. David James, who was at Bristol City at the time, described him as “quality, one of Bristol City’s best players.” For the 2011/12 season Caulker joined Swansea City on loan. This can be described as the season Caulker came into the limelight. He was limited to 26 appearances because of injury but helped them on their way to 10 clean sheets in a time where Spurs only kept 4. Caulker currently has 1 cap for England and managed to score on his debut.
So is Caulker the replacement for King? There is no disputing that Caulker has the potential to be a top class centre back. He is a former 400m hurdles county champion so he has the agility and pace to catch the quickest of strikers. But how do they compare defensively? Below is a table of how they compared last season.
|Ground 50-50's||Win %||Aerial 50-50's||Win %||Tackles||Tackle Success||Minutes per tackle||Interceptions|
Caulker was more involved than King last season which is shown by his higher number of tackles and ground 50-50’s won. However, King is a defender who was often in the right place at the right time which is shown by his higher number of interceptions. King used his experience and guile to intercept a ball meaning there was little need for a tackle. The stats above are even more impressive for King considering he played 574 minutes less than Caulker.
|Accurate passes||Pass completion||Goals|
The table above shows their stats from an attacking point of view. Surprisingly King’s pass completion rate is higher than Caulker’s. Swansea were known for their passing game last season. However, due to Swansea’s style of play Caulker completed an impressive 1401 passes.
Caulker’s composure on the ball is one of his main attributes and it fits perfectly in with the style of Spurs’ play. He is also very good at attacking a set piece and currently already has 2 goals for club and 1 for country this season. Caulker has all the attributes to become one of the leading defenders for both club and country. Only time will tell what the future holds for Caulker who is only 20. But one thing is for sure, he is destined for the very top.
Stats courtesy of EPL Index.