Sunday People


Defender sets his sights on a century of England caps...and a European Championsh­ip winner’s medal

- By Simon Mullock

KYLE WALKER has won the lot with Manchester City – but he has unfinished business with England.

Walker, 33, has lifted the Champions League, five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and the European Super Cup since he moved to the Etihad from Tottenham in a £50million deal in 2017.

But the lightning-quick right-back has no plans to slow down – and he has set his sights on Euro glory next summer and a century of England caps.

Walker, who made his 80th appearance for his country in Friday night’s 2-0 victory over Malta at Wembley, said: “That’s why I’m still here, that’s why I’m still grinding it out at my age of 33, because I can see this team is something special.

“If I can add to what I’ve won and help this team get over the line and win something for the first time in a number of years, then fantastic.

“I relate back to the experience I had with Manchester City after we lost the Champions League final to Chelsea in Porto. I really feel that not many teams get to big finals and win straight away.

“You have to go through a little bit of a setback sometimes. England have experience­d a World Cup semi

final, we’ve experience­d a final in the Euros – and hopefully next summer is our year.

“Another one of my big objectives is to keep playing for England.

“There are very few players that are in that bracket that have made it to the 100 club.

“If I can do that I’ll be over the moon. I first started in 2010 when I got my first call-up under Fabio Capello. To still be here after all these years, I have to say, is a credit to

myself for looking after myself and keeping myself in the best shape.

“Once you reach certain milestones, you’re always looking at the next one. For me, the next one is the big hundred.


“If I can do that, it will be something that will be very special.”

Walker has lost none of his speed despite being seen as a veteran for both club and country. Four years ago his England career appeared over when Gareth Southgate left him out of the squad.

And last summer, he seemed destined to join Harry Kane at Bayern Munich until Pep Guardiola offered him a new contract and the City captaincy.

Walker said: “I am never going to shy away from representi­ng my country. Wherever I have to be, whatever country I have to be in, I’ll do it.

“First and foremost I want to put the badge on – it’s an honour to put the badge on.

“Then I’m a big believer in taking one game at a time.

My full focus is on North Macedonia and then after that

I’ll concentrat­e on doing my duties at Manchester City.

“I feel as fresh as a daisy. Sometimes it is a little bit tiring but I wouldn’t change my job for the world. I’m not going to start complainin­g now.

“The game has adapted. Sport science is completely different, which has helped me massively.

“I still do my gym work to make sure I get my muscles right and I’m still sharp.

“Everyone can play football out there.

“But when you play against the top 10 per cent, you really have to be mentally switched on and focused.”

Manager & skipper


MANAGER: Mikel Arteta – led a title assault last term. Could do the same this time out. If his whining about referees doesn’t get in the way, that is.

STORY SO FAR: Slowish start due to a few injury niggles. Just picking up the pace. Needless situation with the goalkeeper­s didn’t help.

TOP PERFORMER: Declan Rice, just beating off Bukayo Saka. The £105million man has already proven his worth at the Emirates.

HOPING FOR: A slip-up in the Premier League by Manchester City, a slip-up in the Champions League by Manchester City... you get the drift.


MANAGER: Unai Emery – workaholic Spaniard who is performing wonders at Villa Park where records are tumbling.

STORY SO FAR: Dreadful start with a five-goal thumping at Newcastle and long-term injury to Tyrone Mings. Followed by brilliant home form and Euro-advancemen­t. TOP PERFORMER: Ollie Watkins – England internatio­nal already into double figures for goals.

HOPING FOR: A clean bill of health. Emery’s first XI is a match for any, but a run of injuries would hit hard.


MANAGER: Thomas Frank - Dane who is becoming part of the fixtures and fittings at the Bees. Talks a lot of sense, too.

STORY SO FAR: The west Londoners punching above their weight. Great modern-day football tale.

TOP PERFORMER: Bryan Mbuemo - strong, powerful, pacy forward who has shouldered the burden in Ivan Toney’s absence.

HOPING FOR: A big fee for Toney because the noises are he wants out. They’ll already know where they’re spending it, too.


MANAGER: Roberto De Zerbi – spiky Italian who is rated so highly that Pep Guardiola is a fan.

STORY SO FAR: Caught the eye with some superb early-season displays. Caught out a couple of times, but Europe a factor.

TOP PERFORMER: Kaoru Mitoma – the Japan winger has provided attacking focus – and he’s just been tied down to an improved, four-year deal.

HOPING FOR: It’s a question of priorities for the Seagulls. European football is a great adventure, but is it top of their list?


MANAGER: Andoni Iraola – the surprise choice of the new owners to give the Basque a shot in the Premier League.

STORY SO FAR: It’s been tough, particular­ly on the road. But victories at the Vitality over Newcastle and Burnley have proven that they are not to be written off.

TOP PERFORMER: Phillip Billing – tall, athletic midfielder who has been a big feature at the Cherries for the past few years.

HOPING FOR: That they go into the New Year still in touch with those above them.


MANAGER: Mauricio Pochettino – likeable Argentine slowly wading through the mess at Stamford Bridge. STORY SO FAR: Until two weeks ago, it was slow going – then a win over Spurs and sparkling draw against Manchester City look to have changed the narrative. TOP PERFORMER: Cole Palmer – a £45million price tag looked steep – but is so far one of the few looking like value for money.

HOPING FOR: Pochettino to work out his best XI so that upwards momentum is regained.


MANAGER: Vincent Kompany – first campaign ended in the glory of promotion. This one is heading the other way.

STORY SO FAR: A commitment to play progressiv­e football in the Championsh­ip is one thing. Doing it successful­ly in the Premier League is another.

TOP PERFORMER: Lyle Foster – looks a handful. And he’s just signed an improved, five-year deal.

HOPING FOR: Kompany’s unwavering faith in his group to be rewarded with an improved points tally.

 ?? ?? NOT THIS TIME: Kyle Walker consoles Harry Kane after England’s Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final defeat against France
NOT THIS TIME: Kyle Walker consoles Harry Kane after England’s Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final defeat against France
 ?? ?? Pep Guardiola persuaded Kyle Walker to stay and gave him a new contract and the City captaincy... enough to keep Bayern Munich at bay
Pep Guardiola persuaded Kyle Walker to stay and gave him a new contract and the City captaincy... enough to keep Bayern Munich at bay
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