Welsh International Joe Ledley divides opinion, on and off the pitch

Joe Ledley is a model of consistency. He will always put in a shift and go about his business with a minimum of fuss, closing down attackers, breaking up play and driving his team forward. He is the type of player that often passes under the radar, some fans appreciating his endeavour and vital role in the function of the team, others seeing him as a passenger, demanding more impact and end product. You would be hard pushed to find any colleagues or managers willing to criticise him, they understand his often unsung contribution makes them look better.

Against England, he was almost exclusively occupied with damage limitation. Jack Wilshere and Frank Lampard took it in turns to press forward, safe in the knowledge that Scott Parker would be in his element mopping up the rare attacks Wales were able to produce. Ledley’s frustration resulted in a second half booking for dissent. Having scored in an FA Cup semi-final, Play Off final, and most recently in a Scottish League Cup final, Ledley tends to excel as opposed to struggle on the big stage. In retrospect, Ledley was the ideal candidate to deputise for the injured Gareth Bale on the left flank as Andy King was left cruelly exposed in an unfamiliar position. The left-footed Ledley started his professional career at Cardiff’s left flank and often features for Celtic in that position.

Ledley made 226 appearances for his hometown club, scoring 26 goals. Ledley’s debut came at 17, eventually inheriting a central midfield berth and club captaincy. Despite progressing through the youth ranks and his subsequent achievements criticism was a mainstay amongst some supporters, and that spread when Ledley entered the final year of his contract with no apparent desire to sign a new one. Chairman Peter Ridsdale criticised his performances in the local press stating that Ledley was: “playing like he is somewhere else already,” he was also stripped of his captaincy during this period. He may have decided to stay if Cardiff had won in last season’s Play Off final, but Cardiff lost the tie and lost Ledley too, signing for Celtic also added insult to their misery as Cardiff missed out on a potential multi-million pound compensation. With the club facing administration and an offer on the table from Stoke, many fans will always resent Ledley for depriving the club of a much needed cash injection and see his move to Scotland as him taking the easy money. Just as many fans feel he more than earned the right to advance his career wherever he saw fit, appreciate the service he gave and wish him well.

The hatred that exists between Cardiff and Swansea fans has a tendency to spill over in to international fixtures, with fans booing the representatives of their South Wales rivals, Ledley has the misfortune of receiving abuse from both sets of fans. As a model professional and one of Wales most talented players, he deserves better.

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