Premier League Career: Tottenham Hotspur (2010-2017), Aston Villa (2011), Manchester City (2017-PRESENT)
He turned 27 recently and Kyle Walker has impressed many with the journey he has been on. Now established as first-choice right-back for his country, the Sheffield-born defender had been a regular fixture in a hungry and energetic Tottenham Hotspur side that has won the plaudits from many neutral supporters in the past couple of seasons. Now, Walker is embarking on a new challenge for 2017-2018 in the colours of Manchester City.
Walker started his professional career with his local side Sheffield United. Quickly sent to Sixfields to get some Football League experience under his belt at Northampton Town, Walker returned into the fold at Bramwall Lane in January 2009 and was a surprise inclusion in the closing matches of the season as the club struggled with an injury crisis. Walker seized his chance and became the club’s youngest player to ever play at Wembley Stadium when Burnley defeated the Blades’ in the 2009 Championship play-off final.
Tottenham wasted no time in snapping up their man, seeing Walker as part of their future. Harry Redknapp was manager at the time and combined with Kyle Naughton, £9million was paid to the Yorkshire side for Walker to become a Spurs player. He was immediately loaned back to Sheffield United to continue his development before being recalled in February 2010. Less than two months later, he made his Premier League debut in a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth at White Hart Lane.
2010-2011 was another season out on-loan. It began at Queens Park Rangers, before crucial Premier League experience with Aston Villa. It was at Villa Park where he scored his first senior league goal; a 30-yard low drive in the Villans’ 2-2 draw with Fulham on a goalscoring afternoon in February 2011.
The time had come now for Kyle to make the grade at Tottenham. He returned to his parent club that summer and was a regular feature in the teams of Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood and Mauricio Pochettino. After a highly impressive full debut season in north London, Walker was voted into the PFA Team of the Year and saw off competition from the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to win the coveted PFA Young Player of the Year award. He also scored one of the free-kicks of the campaign; a 25-yard curling effort in the 2-0 success against Blackburn Rovers.
Although his attacking prowess is highly regarded, Walker has at times been found guilty of overplaying at the back or easily getting physically beaten in battles against wingers. One of his worst performances came in a home defeat to Manchester United in 2012 when he was at fault for two of the Red Devils’ goals – both scored by Ashley Young.
By now, Kyle had full international recognition from England. Only a toe injury stopped him taking part at the 2012 European Championships but he did make the squad for the 2016 edition in France. In 2016-2017, his performances were once again recognised by his peers who voted Walker in the PFA Team of the Year for a second time. This encouraged Manchester City to break the British transfer record for a defender in July 2017, signing Walker for £45million which could rise to £50million on instalments.
No-one can doubt that Kyle Walker has been an impressive force at the back for Tottenham Hotspur. His progress at Manchester City will be an interesting development in the 2017-2018 season.