Southgate’s Plea to Walker
In a candid revelation, Gareth Southgate, England’s stalwart manager, opened up about not one, but two instances where he felt compelled to pull Manchester City’s star, Kyle Walker, back from the brink of international retirement.
Walker, who recently found the net for England during a tense 1-1 standoff against Ukraine, has been an anchor for the team throughout Southgate’s tenure. “‘I’ve talked him out of retirement from international football twice,” the England supremo shared, adding, “‘He didn’t realise how much value we have for him and how important he is for us.'”
Walker’s Journey in the Three Lions’ Shirt
The defender’s voyage with the national team has been nothing short of remarkable. From being one of the linchpins at the heart of England’s defence during the 2018 World Cup to returning to his favoured right-back role for subsequent tournaments, Walker’s resilience and talent have stood out.
With a commendable 77 caps since his debut in 2011, his prowess on the pitch isn’t up for debate. Yet, the underlying story suggests that England might have had to make do without him.
Shadow of Young Blood
Post the 2018 World Cup, whispers about Walker’s international future grew louder. An unexpected omission from the England squad in August 2019 raised eyebrows. And as the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James began to shine, many wondered if Walker’s time with the Three Lions was coming to an end.
Reflecting on these moments, Walker confessed, “Obviously, at the time that me and Gareth spoke, the likes of Trent, Tripps, Reece James were coming through — you do think your days are numbered.”
Yet, it’s not just about talent, but also about experience and leadership – both of which Walker possesses in spades.
Southgate couldn’t agree more. He remarked, “It’s not only playing but also around training, the way I hear him speak when he’s interviewed, his influence on the group, he’s become a really mature leader for us.”
Unwavering Support from Teammates
Ask any member of the current England squad, and they’d likely champion Walker’s inclusion. Take Jordan Pickford, for instance, who fervently believes that Walker isn’t just good, but the absolute best. When probed about Walker’s worth, the Everton shot-stopper stated unequivocally, “He is the best right back in the world.”
Sharing instances like Walker’s standout defensive plays against speed demons like Kylian Mbappe, Pickford highlights just how invaluable the Manchester City defender is to the team.
For now, thanks to Southgate’s timely interventions, England can still rely on the steadfast presence of Kyle Walker. As reported by Daily +, the player’s journey, peppered with moments of doubt and triumph, only reinforces the importance of resilience, dialogue, and understanding the true value of a player, both on and off the pitch.