Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kyle Walker - Tottenham's Rising Star

Tottenham's young full back made his full international debut for England in their win over Sweden at Wembley.  Not content with that, he was selected as the 'Man of the Match' for his performance on the right side of defence where he also put his attacking tendencies to good purpose.

Kyle Walker - Man of the Moment

Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker who was named the 'Man of the Match' for his performance in his full England debut against Sweden has made rapid progress in three years.  On 15th November, 2008 he made his Football League debut while on loan at Northampton Town and three years later, to the day, he was playing for England at Wembley.

It must be difficult for a young player to get noticed at Tottenham at the moment with so many stars vying for the limelight but Kyle Walker has managed it this season as he establishes himself in the right back position at White Hart Lane.  With things looking up at Spurs at the present as they continue on their eight match unbeaten run in the Premier League, star players are queuing up to make the headlines.

Emmanuel Adebayor made a scoring debut back in September, Ledley King has emerged from the treatment room to lead the side on this exciting run, Gareth Bale has refound his goal scoring touch as well as the form which made him the talk of Europe twelve months ago, Rafael Van der Vaart scored in five successive League matches while Jermain Defoe has scored twice having come off the substitutes' bench.  Scott Parker has put in outstanding performances alongside Luka Modric in midfield, while Brad Friedel's performances have belied his forty years as Aaron Lennon has recovered from injury and is returning to his best.  However, Walker has created his own headlines with his exciting play and made himself an instant hero among supporters by scoring the winning goal in October's victory over closest rivals, Arsenal - for a Tottenham player, there's no better way to make news.

Even during this international break, Tottenham players have been to the forefront - Bale starred for Wales, scoring and creating goals in their win over Norway, Scott Parker was excellent in England's unexpected win over World and European Champions, Spain and Luke Modric was the star of Croatia's win over Greece in the Euro2112 play-off match.  All were named as 'Man of the Match' for these performances and then Sandro scored his first goal for Brazil to keep his name to the fore.  It would have been sufficient for Walker to make his full England after a brief appearance against Spain when he replaced Parker, but not wanting to be outdone by his more experienced colleagues he had to turn in a 'Man of the Match' performance to make his own statement.

Kyle Walker grew up in Sheffield and developed his football through Sheffield United's youth system.  In November, 2008, at the age of eighteen he went to Northampton Town on loan to gain some League experience and made nine appearances before returning to Bramall Lane where he made his debut in an FA Cup tie the following January.  At the end of the season, he made his League debut for United in their final two matches as they battled to make the Championship play-offs.  Having achieved that, Walker retained his place for the play-offs, appearing at Wembley in the defeat to Burnley.

The following July, after just that handful of appearances for United, Tottenham signed the 'two Kyles' - Walker and Naughton for a fee of £4 million each, seeing off Everton who were interested in signing Walker.  As part of the deal, Walker returned to United on loan for the 2009-10 season and he played regularly at right back, making 26 appearances.  He was unexpectedly recalled to White Hart Lane in February, 2010 as cover when Alan Hutton went on loan to Sunderland.  His Tottenham debut came at the end of March against Portsmouth and he retained his place for the next game at Sunderland. 

The following season he went out on loan to further his league experience and spent the first half of the year, helping Queen's Park Rangers in their pursuit of the Championship title.  He was highly regarded for his performances there and the club were disappointed when Tottenham recalled him and arranged a loan spell at a Premier League club.  Walker played 15 Premier League games for Aston Villa, scoring once and again received favourable reviews for his attacking play.  He was called into  the England squad by Fabio Capello but didn't progress into the team.  During the summer he went with the England Under-21 side to the European Under-21 Championships and was included in the 'Team of the Tournament'.

Aston Vila were keen to retain Walker for another season but Harry Redknapp had other ideas as he started the young full back in the opening match of the season although he had to go off at half-time as he was unwell.  He missed the defeat to Manchester City but has made the right back position his own with experienced Vedran Corluka having to be satisfied with a place on the bench.

Walker is an exciting prospect who is rapidly gaining experience.  He is confident in his play and his ability, constantly looking to get forward to create opportunities for others.  He is developing a good understanding with Aaron Lennon on the right wing which has to be an important element of his game so as Tottenham get the best out of the winger.  Walker's forward play has seen him involved with the goal scored by Rafael Van der Vaart at Blackburn and it was his attacking exploits which played a prominent part in the lead up to the first goal at Fulham where his pull back went to Lennon who set Bale free to score.  Walker has great pace when going forward and his shooting ability saw him deceive Arsenal's goalkeeper for the winner at White Hart Lane.  Defensively, he is still learning his trade but he is able to use his great pace to get back and recover his position and retrieve the situation.

Full back has often been a position where Tottenham have struggled to find players of the required standard but if Walker continues to learn and progress as he has done in recent years then Spurs have an excellent prospect on their books for many years to come.  With Bale and Lennon on the wings, supported by Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Walker from full back, there are exciting times ahead for Tottenham supporters.


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