London: Tottenham captain Ledley King retired from football Thursday at the age of 31 due to a chronic left knee injury that has troubled him throughout his career.
"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," King said. "Sadly my injuries and inability to train have now finally brought an end to my career."
King, who played as a central defender, spent his entire career at Spurs after joining as a youth player at the age of 14. He will carry on with his role as a club ambassador.
"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," said King. "I pleased that I can continue to work within the club and for the local community."
When healthy, King was one of top defenders in the Premier League. But he often struggled to play regularly, making 323 appearances for Tottenham after his debut in 1999. Even when he did play, he often had to sit out training sessions between games to rest his knee.
King eventually became Tottenham captain and lifted the League Cup in 2008. He represented England 21 times, including appearances at the 2004 European championship and the 2010 World Cup.
Club chairman Daniel Levy was quick to pay tribute to King.
"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."
King turned professional in 1998 and made his debut against Liverpool at Anfield a year later. He went on to play 323 times for Spurs, scoring 14 goals.