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Premier League winner. England international. Kyle Walker is one of the game's elite full-backs, but he has told SPORTbible how he required a slice of luck to get his foot on the bottom rung of the ladder.
The stars aligned for the now England international. He was playing in a local park in Sheffield, where coach Paul Archer spotted his talents.
The young Walker was not expected to be in the area on the day he was scouted, but a quirk of fate gave him a helping hand.
"I slept at my friend's house and it was his brother, Akeem and Ismail - there wasn't any space in the car because his cousin was coming to pick him up and take him to a little coaching session that was happening in a park," Walker told SPORTbible.
"I said I would go home and wait for them to come back. Ten minutes later he knocked on the door and said that the cousin's sister didn't end up coming up - the dad didn't have to bring the little girl so there was a space for me.
"The rest is history. I went and trained and there was a scout from Sheffield United called Paul Archer who asked if I wanted to play for them.
"I never even played Sunday League football or anything. I went straight from estate football to the park at six or seven and then Sheffield United."
Fast forward 24 years and Walker has over 500 club and international appearances under his belt, in addition to three Premier League titles with Manchester City.
Some things have changed, but some have remained the same. Walker still has spaghetti bolognaise the night before every game and he still wears the same battered shinpads from when he was 16.
"My favourite right-back at the time at Sheffield United, Derek Geary, he gave them to me and I've never changed them.
"I've still got them with me now. They're a couple of years old now!"
The 2011/12 PFA Young Player of the Year made the first of 57 appearances for his country aged 21 when he replaced Scott Parker in the 85th minute of a friendly win over Spain in November 2011.
Now, he's the veteran of this young and exciting group.
Delighted to get 3 points & the clean sheet. Qualifying top of the group. Let's work hard and stay focused :flag_black: @England #england pic.twitter.com/tIBZpptDUy
- Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) June 22, 2021
"I've not been called the oldest ever so to be the oldest at 31 I think it shows the potential of this team and the way that English football is going forward.
"I started playing international football 11 years ago and it was me and Jack Wilshere who were the two youngest around the team.
"So to still be here 11 years on is a massive achievement for myself but I still feel young and fresh. I probably act younger than some of them around the place! I'm trying to keep up with them."
There's a 14-year age-gap between Walker and the youngest member of the group, 17-year-old prodigy Jude Bellingham.
Birmingham's very own #WallpaperWednesday pic.twitter.com/bD5FO7yMZh
- Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) June 23, 2021
How on earth is the 6ft 1in Borussia Dortmund midfielder only 17? It's the question on everyone's lips. When asked, Walker's response was a witty one.
"Because he was born in the year 2000 and odd," Walker laughed, before waxing lyrical about his teammate.
"It's crazy! When I look back at me when I was 17, I was still playing reserve football.
"What he's done for Dortmund and to then produce that on the international stage and how he's taken it in his stride just shows the maturity of him.
"I think the world's his oyster. Really, really down to earth guy and humble. I wish him all the success because he's got a great future ahead of him."
You only have to watch the behind-the-scenes clips on England's YouTube channel to get an understanding of the togetherness amongst this squad.
Walker is the oldest of the crop and likes a bit of down-time, but he does enjoy the company of the rest of the squad.
He said: "A lot of the lads have said it but it's like club football here now. It's been the same group, with a few additions here and there, for the last couple of years and we've really got some close friendships here.
"You're spending a lot of time away from home, in a bubble and basically living 24/7 with these people. I want to stay here until the 11th of July and stay here until the final so hopefully they don't get on my nerves too much!"
For a number of years, the former Spurs and Sheffield United man has largely been a mainstay for England.
He did, however, have a period out of the squad when he was dropped by Gareth Southgate before the European Championship qualifiers at the start of the 2019/20 campaign. It gave him the jolt he needed.
"It was a big learning curve and a big reality check," Walker said. "I've been in here since I was 20, continuously being picked in squads. I probably didn't start playing until I was 23 because Glen Johnson was on fire and doing so well at the time.
"I kind of took it for granted, just being called up. To step back and watch the lads at home, they were getting the results and doing really well but it hurt a lot not being involved.
"I just had to concentrate on my game. Personally, I thought I was doing well at Manchester City and was putting in good performances so I just had to keep doing that and find myself back in the team somewhere down the line."
Of course, a boy from the 'Steel City' was never going to give up and by the time the Euros rolled around, Walker was named in the starting XI for the opening group game, a 1-0 win over Croatia at Wembley.
Walker was rested for the 0-0 draw with Scotland, but returned to the side against Czech Republic and played a part in a third successive clean sheet - setting England on their way to a meeting with Germany in the last-16.
His next outing for the Three Lions will be Walker's 58th but he'll never get tired of pulling on that England shirt, especially in a big tournament at Wembley.
"It's the pinnacle of everyone's career," he said. "You want to go and represent your country first and foremost but to represent your country in a tournament is a special occasion - especially at Wembley.
"We need to really show the fans how far we've come as a team in the last couple of years.
"It's always good to get the country behind us but I think we've set the bar now. We've set the expectations high now and we need to live up to them.
"There's good players in this team who can deal with that pressure, and we need to put our best foot forward and attack this tournament with the powers that we've got really.
"To play in front of your fans is always the best. We need to make it as difficult as possible for teams coming to play at Wembley.
"We know the pitch; we know the stadium and we've got the 12th man behind us."
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