Gareth Southgate, the English manager who has been on the headlines over last few years owing to his master tactics has expressed that he has talked veteran defender Kyle Walker out of retirement twice in his career, as the seasoned Manchester City right-back had considered opting out of the national team after faltering in the EURO 2020 and World Cup 2022.
Gareth Southgate- instrumental in Kyle Walker’s first international goal?
Kyle Walker has been one of the seasoned defenders that England team has ever produced. Over the last few seasons, after plying trade with several heavyweights like Tottenham and Aston Villa, he joined the current treble winners in 2017, and has been one of the mainstays for Pep Guardiola since then. In more than 169 appearances for the Cityzens, he has offered an instrumental position over the years, scoring three goals, and has earned himself the badge of one of the best right backs in English Premier League. Owing to his exploits in the defensive sector, Kyle has been one of the driving force in strengthening England’s defense.
According to reports, due to some unsatisfactory results with the national team in two of the biggest tournaments like UEFA EURO 2020 and FIFA World Cup in 2022, Walker had decided to call time upon his stellar career. But, he was persuaded by manager Gareth Southgate, as he had had “talked him” out of retirement twice. As a result, Walker was rewarded with his first international goal as England managed a stalemate against Ukraine, when the “Three Lions” drew 1-1 against “The Blue and Yellow”.
“I’ve talked him out”, says Southgate
Gareth Southgate, the England boss instrumental in Walker’s first goal was heard saying, “I’ve talked him out of [international] retirement twice, after the Euros and after the World Cup. I think he loves being here and he’s wanted to keep going and now he’s thinking about how many caps can he get. He’s critical to us. If we’re talking about world-class players in their position in our team then he’s probably one of them. I think he didn’t realize how much value we have for him and how important he is for us. He’s probably not going to thank me for sharing that.”
Incidentally, Walker has played most of his games under Southgate when he was recruited to the post in 2016, but has made his official senior men’s debut in 2011, under legendary manager Fabio Capello. He has mentioned that increasing competition for the fullback position had prompted him to think about retiring.
He said, “[With] the likes of Trent [Alexander-Arnold], Tripps [Kieran Trippier], Reece James coming through, you do think your days are numbered. And how many holidays and summers that I’ve sacrificed. I’ve been doing this since I was 19 [when] I joined the senior team – I’m 33 now. Me and Gareth have a good relationship off the field. We do speak and I feel that I can still bring something to the team. So why stop?”
England’s seasoned defender can get a chance to increase his tally to 78 caps against Scotland as the Manchester City star would look to deploy his tactics in the wingback position, as the English aim to win their second game of the international break, before resuming club duties.