‘People tell me how proud of our team the nation is now’
After reaching the World Cup semi-finals, Kieran Trippier is hungry for more with England and Spurs
‘It makes me emotional,” says Kieran Trippier and it is hard not to begin an interview with the Tottenham Hotspur full-back, even ahead of their huge clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow, without reflecting on England, the World Cup and a summer in which not only was a semi-final improbably reached but a reconnection was made. Trippier was at the heart of that.
“We were happy as a team that we could help young kids get into football and just run around shouting players’ names again. Just to see them smiling and happy was the most important thing,” Trippier says as he admits to a significant difference to the way he is treated post-World Cup. It is the supermarket test.
“I was in M&S with my wife [Charlotte] the other day,” he says. “And people were coming up to me. Before the World Cup, they weren’t doing that. It’s a World Cup, it’s global, everybody’s watching.”
The memories are rich, “mindblowing”, he says, and, yes, emotional. In Russia, and when he returned home, going back to his parents’ house in the same council estate in Summerseat, Bury, where he grew up – they refuse to move despite his success – Trippier had a deep sense of what the tournament meant to the nation.
“Obviously, we were in our little bubble when we were in Russia and you see stuff on social media of fans in the streets and so on,” he says. “But since I have come back I’ve had quite a lot of people, even back home off my mum and dad’s council estate, emotional in a way about it and I feel this team and the fans have come back together, in a way, and that comes from the manager himself. He dictates everything. I have had loads of people come up to me and say how well we did and how proud the whole nation is of our team. We overcame a lot of obstacles in that tournament – penalty shoot-outs, we had not won one of them in I don’t know how many years, knock-out games … So, I think we did ourselves proud.”
And it does make him feel emotional, even now as he sits at Spurs’ training ground. “From very young, seeing my dad [Chris], a Manchester United fan, a mad England fan, when they are playing and watching him and his face when they are losing,” the 27-year-old says. “For me, playing in a World Cup for England and just thinking about it … I can remember when we played France, my debut [in 2017], and all I could think about was my mum [Eleanor] and dad in the crowd and how hard they had worked for all those years to get me where I am now. It is emotional, really. My mum and dad fully deserve everything.”
Trippier is one of four boys – with brothers Chris, Curtis and Kelvin. The latter, commonly known by his mother’s surname Lomax, went on to play for Oldham Athletic and Rochdale, while Kieran, coming from a family of Manchester United fans trained with them before being taken on by Manchester City. “It was not easy [growing up] and I thank them [his parents] all the time,” Trippier explains. “My dad was a tree surgeon. When I was younger, he was working away five days a week for weeks on end, just trying to get as much money. My mum works in Londis [food store]. It’s been difficult for them both, especially with four children, four boys as well.”
Trippier was in a successful City youth team, starting out as a central midfielder, then a right winger before becoming a right-back. They won the Youth Cup, against Chelsea, in 2008. It was the year, of course, that City were taken over by Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Mansour. The rest is history.
“Daniel Sturridge, we had Vladimir Weiss, Donal McDermott, Dedryck Boyota,” Trippier says. “We had very good players. I think maybe only two in Studge and Dedryck made it out of our group and into the first team. It’s a bit of a shame really because there was so much talent there who, for sure, could have played in the first team but everything happens for a reason, it wasn’t meant to be. So I went on loan.”
When Trippier returned from his loan spell at Barnsley, “the money was coming in” at City with new signings. “I went to Burnley, round the corner, and I didn’t look back. That’s when I was playing in the Championship, playing with Eddie Howe at the time and I always believed that I could get back to the top,” Trippier says.
“Eddie Howe was good on the front foot with his teams and playing attractive football but [we] were letting in too many goals. Then Sean Dyche came in. Sat us all down. Strict rules. I’ve got a lot to thank him for as well. And the gaffer now [Mauricio Pochettino], he’s just unbelievable the way he wants you to play and work. I love the way we play attractive football and that comes from the manager and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Trippier joined Spurs in June 2015 when Burnley were relegated from the Premier League. “I had a good chat with Sean Dyche, I told him about where I want to be and what I want to achieve,” he explains. “I didn’t think twice about coming to a big club. I wasn’t expecting to come here and think: ‘This is my spot.’ I knew I had to be patient. I spoke to my brother, who played football, and he just said: ‘Go for it.’ Without a doubt: Premier League club, top-four team, one of the best in England.”
Trippier backed himself but had to bide his time – with Kyle Walker Spurs’ first-choice right-back. “It took me about 16-18 months to try to get the first spot at right-back,” Trippier says. “But everybody knows Kyle Walker was unbelievable. And I knew I had to be patient because it’s not easy taking Kyle Walker’s spot but my chance finally came when he left [for City] and that’s why I’ve got to thank the manager. Other managers could have bought players to go in my position but he trusted me.”
There is a parallel between Trippier’s Spurs and England careers and he has seized the chance given to him at both. “He [Pochettino] always had his arm round me saying: ‘Your chance will come.’ And I always believed it. That’s why I waited,” Trippier says and he will be a certainty also when Gareth Southgate names his squad next week for the Uefa Nations League fixture against Spain and the friendly against Switzerland.
Trippier had an outstanding World Cup – not least for his set-piece prowess and scoring the free-kick against Croatia in the semi-final that took England so agonisingly close to the final. “It’s a World Cup semi-final but the day before, and throughout the tournament really, there was me, Youngie [Ashley Young], Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and a few other boys hitting free-kicks well, to be fair,” Trippier explains. “Before the game we were talking – which side did we want it on? – me and Youngie so … no, but it’s about who feels confident at that moment in time and I said to Youngie ‘I feel confident, do you mind if I take it?’ and he said ‘no problem at all’ and I’m happy it went in but, obviously, frustrated and disappointed about the result in the end.”
Trippier picked up where he left off – again scoring a free-kick in his first match back to help beat Fulham last Saturday. He even took it ahead of Christian Eriksen.
“It’s practise,” Trippier says. “Today we were practising. That’s why I was a bit late coming to speak to you.”
The “Bury Beckham”, as he was dubbed at the World Cup, also learnt from David Beckham. “I used to watch him on YouTube, for ages when I was younger,” Trippier says who revels in the responsibility. “So many times. His crossing, the way he picked people out … his long passing, his short passing, his ability at set-pieces, the way he moved the ball at free-kicks. He’s the one I always looked up to, him and Andrea Pirlo. More Beckham. I’m nowhere near his level but I can try and get there.”
‘I always wanted to be like Beckham. I am nowhere near his level but I can try and get there’
Trusted performer: Kieran Trippier is now making his selection for Spurs and England automatic after a string of outstanding displays for club and country