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Kyle Walker admits World Cup disappointment with England and City star denied opportunity to fulfil career ambition

By Mirror | Published Wed, June 13th 2018 at 10:20, Updated June 13th 2018 at 10:36 GMT +3
Kyle Walker (L) chats with England coach Gareth Southgate. [Photo/Courtesy]

Kyle Walker has revealed his disappointment at not being able to fulfil his career ambition at this summer’s World Cup.

Walker admits he had always dreamed of proving himself as the best right back in the world but goes to Russia this summer with a different defensive role.

England boss Gareth Southgate switched the Manchester City defender to the right of a back three and it is clear that Walker is not entirely happy with his job in the team.

It is a surprise admission because Walker has been seamless in making the switch and yet it now emerges that he would far rather be in his natural position.

Walker, 28, said: “I have been playing professionally since I was 18 at right-back, to get to your first World Cup and probably not playing in your preferred position where you want to showcase your talent, is not disappointing but it is like OK, it is a little bit of a step back.

“I have to move on from it. I’m professional. I’ve played the game, 28 now, as long as it is for the team and the manager feels it is going to benefit the team then why not?

“It was comfortable because of the work I have done at Manchester City. The gaffer (Pep Guardiola) really doesn’t really like to be overloaded in midfield. So if he does see that then I do tuck in and so we go as a back-three.

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Kyle Walker (L) and Marcus Rashford (R). [Photo/Courtesy]

“Is it my preferred position? Of course not. I want to play right back. I have worked my whole life to get to where I am now in a World Cup squad, and to showcase my talent in the World Cup stage, playing in my position.

“But I’m a team player. I will do anything for the team. If that means the Gaffer thinks to help the team out it is me playing there I am all for it.

“It might give me a little bit of an opportunity but it is about reading the game, I don’t want to leave space at the back to get on a counter-attack. I’m a defender first and foremost, and if I’m playing right centre half I am even more of a defender than the wing backs.

“If I can get forward I am sure you will see me up there. I have to be professional. I have to manage the game correctly, and see what we are doing in the game.”

Walker has made a career out of bombing forward from right back and his first World Cup memory comes from France 98 when he was dreaming of being a forward.

“My first memory of the World Cup was Argentina was Michael Owen. The 1998 one where he dribbled through,” said Walker. “That was a good memory for me. I was a centre forward there watching Michael Owen dribble forward and I was thinking: ‘I want to do that.’

“The whole country goes mad. We need to live up to that. We’ve got the country on our back but we also need the country behind us, with the support, the positive energy, the fans and you guys need to give to us is only going to spur us on.”

But there is also no doubt in his mind that while Owen took France 98 by storm, this could be Raheem Sterling’s year in Russia.

Walker insists that not only is his Manchester City team mate one of the best members of the squad OFF the field - despite the controversy of his gun tattoo - he is also up there with the best in the world on the pitch.

 

Walker said: “He’s unbelievable. He could be one of the best in the world by far. He scares defenders, he scares me when he’s running at me. For me, Neymar. Ronaldo and Messi have dominated for god knows how long. But, for me, the best player I’ve faced on the ball so far is Neymar.

“At Manchester City, on and off the field, if I’ve got a problem at home or a problem with football then I’m the first one to go to him and speak about it. He’s got a heart of gold. He’s my friend. He’s my team mate but first and foremost he’s my friend and I’d defend him till the end of the earth.

“It’s people’s opinion. Should he have had to have come out and explain himself? I don’t believe so. It’s his body, it’s up to him what he does with his body. If I wanted to do something to my body then I wouldn’t care what anyone else has to say.

“I feel it’s a bit sad that he had to come and tell people that his dad died from a gun. It’s personal to him. I think (he does get picked on) a little bit, I think a little bit. It’s just Raheem. he probably won’t change for anyone, that’s just him and I wouldn’t want


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