KYLE WALKER dreamed of establishing himself as the best right-back on the planet at the World Cup but was persuaded to shelve his ambition for the good of the England team.
The defender carved out his reputation at Tottenham before joining Manchester City for £45million last summer, subsequently winning the Premier League title and Carabao Cup.
But it is international recognition the 28-year-old set his sights on, pitting himself against the best in his position, the likes of Germany’s Joshua Kimmich and Dani Carvajal, of Spain.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, however, had different ideas. In March he put Walker in a back three and he looks sure to play centrally in Russia.
‘If you ask me where do I want to play, of course I want to play right-back,’ said Walker, who landed in Russia with the rest of the England squad yesterday.
‘I’ve worked my whole career to prove to myself I can be the best in the world in my position. I feel like showcasing that at the World Cup would probably get me there but it’s about whatever I need to do for the team.
‘If the gaffer feels me playing at right centre-half is beneficial to the team, then why not? It’s still a relatively new experience for me but it’s new tools in my toolbox.’
Walker has packed his former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino’s book Brave New World, an account of their 2016-17 campaign, which ended with Walker’s exit, to read in Russia. He added: ‘I haven’t got to my part in it yet, so as soon I’ve read that you can ask me again, but he’s entitled to his opinion.’
Walker is acting as an inspiration for team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold, 20, who is at his first senior tournament.
The Liverpool full-back said: ‘He’s definitely one of the best, an unbelievable player. He is definitely someone I look up to.’