Published 10 June 2021 3 min read
England Men's Senior Team
Kyle Walker is still the quickest
The Three Lions defender tells the England Podcast he's still confident he can beat all his squad-mates in a 100m race...
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It might be surprising to learn that at 31, Kyle Walker is the oldest player in Gareth Southgate’s England squad heading to UEFA EURO 2020 this summer.
Having picked the youngest squad for a major tournament since 1958, Walker’s seniority comes into perspective a bit more and it’s not something he’s trying to shy away from either.
A three-time Premier League winner, his reputation precedes him, but long before he became a serial winner, it was his searing pace that stood out above all else.
The debate has long been raging as to whether Walker is still the man to beat over 100 metres, but the Manchester City ace is adamant that there’s only one candidate for the gold medal.
“The lads might give me a bit of stick but I’ve been here for eleven years now so I must be doing something right to still be here at the age of 31,” Walker told the Official England Podcast.
“I always say to the younger ones ‘you might think I’m old but if any of you want to race me, I’d be more than happy and you can probably have a head start as well.’
“Over 100 metres, I’d be the fastest and if anyone told you any differently, they’d be lying. Then Marcus, I think Luke Shaw would be up there, Phil Foden is actually pretty quick, Raheem obviously - so we’re blessed with a lot of pace in good areas.
While he’s always up for a laugh and a joke, there’s also a serious side to the man who’s heading to his third major tournament with his country and a willingness to help the younger players around him.
“I’ve said to the lads that all they need to do is give me a ring or knock on my door if they want to chat about anything - I will always try to be that senior player that I am.”
Much had been made of Gareth Southgate’s decision to include four right-backs in the original 26-man squad but both the manager and Walker can see the bigger picture when it comes to full-backs.
Trent Alexander Arnold’s late withdrawal from the squad means that England are back down to three recognised right-backs for the tournament now with Kieran Trippier and Reece James challenging the Manchester City man for a starting berth.
At club level Walker has witnessed first-hand how having versatile full-backs can benefit the team and is optimistic that England can reap the same rewards.
“I think that’s something that we need to look at as a positive. It was very unlucky that Trent picked up the injury but we had four very good right-backs here," he added.
“With Tripps and Reece it’s top competition but whoever gets the nod, the other ones have to be fully supportive and try and pass on any information they can to try and help out.
“All of us can play in different positions though. Foreign players come over here, like Joao Cancelo at Manchester City for example, and start playing different positions but I think it’s a positive for English football that we are going in that direction too.
“A lot of people want to be full-backs now and it’s not like it was back then when it was just about putting the ball in the channel and getting a few crosses in - hopefully each of us can bring something wherever we play.”