Five things on England defender Kyle Walker after his move to Manchester City from Tottenham on Friday for a fee that could rise with add-ons to £54 million ($70m, 61m euros) on Friday:
Toughing it out
Walker hails from a modest background in Sheffield perhaps best known for the film ‘The Full Monty’. However, even though that steeled him for future challenges a rough couple of years reached its nadir in 2014 when a serious pelvic injury cost him not only the chance of appearing at the World Cup finals but nine months of inactivity. He started to question his own ability.
“I needed to prove to myself -– to the manager, to the fans, even to my mum and dad -– that I’m not just an average player,” he told the Daily Telegraph in April 2016. Any such doubts have surely disappeared when a manager such as Pep Guardiola decides £50million is a worthy price to pay for him and a hefty profit for Spurs who outlaid £9m for both him and Kyle Naughton in 2009 from Sheffield United.
The Pochettino human touch
Walker may have fallen out with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino last season but when he looks back it is likely he will hold no grudges after the sensitivity the Argentinian displayed last year. “My granddad had a stroke two or three months ago,” Walker told the Telegraph. “I knocked on his (Pochettino) door and said: ‘I need to go to Sheffield to see my granddad.’ He said, ‘Never mind about the double session. Family’s more important. Go and see your granddad.’ To me, that said everything about the man that he is.” Walker’s grandfather subsequently recovered.
Feet on the ground
Footballers and tattoos have become synonymous but the one Walker has adorning his right arm ‘To the stars through difficulties’ is to remind him of his modest beginnings and never to lose sight of that. “It was my first tattoo and it’s just gone on from there,” Walker told the Daily Mirror in 2011. “I sat down with my mum and it’s just something we spoke about. I grew up on a council estate (in Sheffield). My family didn’t have much. Then, when I was 17, I moved to London and obviously, it’s bettered my family, and I’m just grateful.”
The Blades still cut deep
Regardless of whom he plays for Walker remains a devoted Sheffield United fan. “I have obviously supported the club since I was a boy and played for the club,” he told The Independent in 2015 ahead of a League Cup semi-final between Spurs and Sheffield United. “My heart will always be with Sheffield United.” Whilst he remained the consummate professional and Spurs progressed (3-2 on aggregate) there was no question of who his family would support and there was no room for sentiment. “No (they won’t be cheering me on) — they are Sheffield United fans. Seriously. They obviously support me and want me to do well, but they will be wanting Sheffield United to go through.”
Northampton stay not Cobblers for Walker
Walker recalls his time on loan in 2008 at unglamourous Northampton Town where he’d been sent by Sheffield United as teaching him the stark reality for players playing at that level. “There were players there whose mortgages were on the line and winning football matches made it easier for them to look after their families,” Walker told the Evening Standard in 2011. “You have to remember that professional football is a job, too, and some people have to get results on the pitch to pay to live. If you’re lucky enough to get into a Premier League or Championship team straight away, well done to you, but I feel really grateful for the experience that I had at the lower end.”