Kyle Andrew Walker (born 28 May 1990) is an English professional footballer who plays at right-back for Premier League club Manchester City, whom he captains, and the England national team. He is considered one of the best right backs in Europe, and is considered one of the best right backs of his generation. Walker is known for his speed, physicality, and ability to read the game.

Kyle Walker
Walker with England in 2024
Personal information
Full name Kyle Andrew Walker
Date of birth (1990-05-28) 28 May 1990 (age 34)
Place of birth Sheffield, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[1]
Position(s) Right-back
Team information
Current team
Manchester City
Number 2
Youth career
1997–2008 Sheffield United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2008–2009 Sheffield United 2 (0)
2008Northampton Town (loan) 9 (0)
2009–2017 Tottenham Hotspur 183 (4)
2009–2010Sheffield United (loan) 26 (0)
2010–2011Queens Park Rangers (loan) 20 (0)
2011Aston Villa (loan) 15 (1)
2017– Manchester City 197 (3)
International career
2009 England U19 7 (0)
2010–2011 England U21 7 (0)
2011– England 89 (1)
Medal record
Men's football
Representing  England
UEFA European Championship
Runner-up 2020
UEFA Nations League
Third place 2019
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 16:41, 25 May 2024 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of 22:10, 10 July 2024 (UTC)

Walker started his career at his boyhood club Sheffield United at the age of seven. He made his first-team debut aged 18 after a loan spell at Northampton Town. He impressed whilst playing for United and played in the 2009 Championship play-off final. His performances earned him a move to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, before being immediately loaned back to Sheffield United. After further loan spells at Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa, Walker cemented his place in Tottenham's first team. He was part of the Tottenham team coached by Mauricio Pochettino that finished runner-ups in the 2016–17 Premier League and 2014–15 League Cup.

Walker joined Manchester City in 2017 for a fee of £45 million. Throughout his City career, he has been coached by Pep Guardiola. Whilst at City, he has won six Premier League titles, four EFL Cups, two FA Cups, and a UEFA Champions League in 2023 as part of a continental treble. He has been named in the PFA Team of the Year three times, in the 2011–12, 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons.

Walker played for England at under-19 and under-21 levels before making his debut for the senior national team in September 2011. He has represented England at two UEFA European Championships, in 2016 and 2020, and at two FIFA World Cups, in 2018 and 2022.

Early life

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Kyle Andrew Walker[2] was born on 28 May 1990[3] in Sheffield, South Yorkshire,[4] and is of Jamaican descent on his father's side.[5] He grew up in the Sharrow area of the city,[6] and attended Porter Croft Infant & Junior School, followed by High Storrs School until 2006.[7]

Club career

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Sheffield United

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Walker joined boyhood club Sheffield United[8] at the age of seven after being recommended by coach Paul Archer at Football Unites, Racism Divides. Walker progressed through the ranks to become a regular fixture in the reserve team by 2008.[6] In November 2008, he was allowed to join League One club Northampton Town on a one-month loan to gain first-team experience,[9] making his debut on 15 November in a defeat to Oldham Athletic.[10] His one-month loan was later extended into January 2009,[11] before he returned to United, having played nine matches for Northampton.[12]

Soon after returning to United, Walker made his first-team debut for the club on 13 January 2009, starting in a third round FA Cup tie against Leyton Orient.[13] With United losing a number of players to injury in the closing weeks of the season, Walker was included in the starting line-up for the last two matches of the season, making his full league debut for the club on 25 April 2009 against Swansea City.[14] After two outstanding performances he retained his place as Sheffield United entered the Championship play-offs, starting both matches against Preston North End and the final against Burnley at the end of May 2009.[15][16] By playing in the final, Walker became the youngest Sheffield United player ever to play at Wembley Stadium.[17]

Tottenham Hotspur

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2009–2011: Transfer and loans

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Walker with Tottenham Hotspur in 2010

On 22 July 2009, Walker signed for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, along with fellow Sheffield United player Kyle Naughton, for a combined fee of £9 million. Walker was loaned back to United for the duration of the 2009–10 season as part of the deal.[18] While at Sheffield United, he was virtually ever-present at right-back for the first half of the season, but was unexpectedly recalled by Tottenham on 1 February 2010, just before the close of the January 2010 transfer window, after Alan Hutton was loaned out to Sunderland.[19] Walker made his debut for Tottenham on 27 March, in a 2–0 victory over Portsmouth and went on to make one more league appearance that season.[20]

At the start of the following season, Walker went out on loan once more signing an initial one-month deal with Queens Park Rangers due to injuries at the club in the right-back position.[21] In mid-October, his loan at QPR was extended until 3 January 2011.[22]

After leaving QPR, Walker joined Tottenham's Premier League rivals Aston Villa on loan until the end of the 2010–11 season.[23] He scored on his debut only nine minutes into the match against former club Sheffield United in the third round of the FA Cup in January 2011.[24] At the start of February, Walker scored his first Premier League goal and first senior league goal, a 30-yard shot into the bottom left corner of the goal against Fulham.[25] He returned to Tottenham at the end of the 2010–11 season after scoring two goals in 18 appearances for Villa.[26]

2011–2017: League Cup final

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Walker playing for Tottenham Hotspur in 2013

On leaving Villa Park, Walker suggested that he would be happy to return to the club the next season,[27] for his first-team opportunities at Tottenham were limited.[28] However, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp had already stated that he did not wish to sell Walker.[29] Walker subsequently agreed to a contract extension at Tottenham until 2016.[30] Walker was chosen in the starting eleven for Tottenham's opening match of the 2011–12 season, away to Manchester United on 22 August 2011.[31] On 2 October, he scored the winning goal in the North London derby against Arsenal from 25-yards out. Tottenham won the match 2–1.[32] On 22 April 2012, Walker was named as the PFA Young Player of the Year, beating the likes of Sergio Agüero, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and teammate Gareth Bale to the award, as well as being named in the PFA Team of the Year.[33] On 3 May 2012, Walker was awarded with a new five-year contract, that ran until 2017.[34]

Walker was ever-present in the first half of the 2012–13 season in the Premier League, with the exception of a 3–0 away victory over Fulham, in which he was a unused substitute.[35] This included playing 90 minutes in the 3–2 win over Manchester United, which was Tottenham's first victory at Old Trafford in 23 years.[36] On 28 October 2013, Walker signed a new contract with Tottenham, keeping him at the club until June 2019.[37] Walker was part of the Tottenham team that lost 2–0 to Chelsea on 1 March at Wembley Stadium in the 2015 League Cup final.[38] On 20 April 2017, Walker was named at right-back in the PFA Team of the Year for the second time.[39]

Manchester City

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2017–2020: First major silverware

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On 14 July 2017, Walker signed a five-year contract with Tottenham's Premier League rivals Manchester City,[40] in a transfer reported to be worth an initial £45 million fee, rising to £50 million with add-ons, making it one of the most expensive football transfers.[41] He made his debut on 12 August against Brighton & Hove Albion, and many media outlets labelled him as the best player in the match.[42][43] However, during Walker's home debut against Everton, he was sent off for two bookable offences.[44] On 25 February, Walker started in the 2018 EFL Cup final against Arsenal, and played the whole 90 minutes, with Manchester City winning 3–0 to obtain their first piece of silverware of the 2017–18 season, and their first trophy overall under Pep Guardiola.[45] Walker also received his first trophy with Manchester City and his first trophy as a Premier League player.[46]

Walker started in the 2019 FA Cup final against Watford on 18 May as City won the first domestic treble in English men's football.[47][48] Walker signed a new contract with City in June 2019.[49] On 6 November, in a UEFA Champions League away match against Atalanta, Walker volunteered to go in goal for the last 10 minutes after substitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was sent off; he did not concede and saved a free-kick as the match ended 1–1.[50][51]

2020–2022: Consecutive Premier League titles

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Walker playing for Manchester City in 2021

On 31 October 2020, Walker scored a long-range goal against Sheffield United to mark his 100th Premier League appearance for Manchester City. Walker did not celebrate, explaining later that he did not do so as he is a "Sheffield United fan".[52] On 10 February 2021, Walker scored a goal against Swansea City in the fifth round of the 2020–21 FA Cup.[53] Manchester City were later knocked out by Chelsea in the semi-finals on 17 April.[54] On 11 May, Walker won the 2020–21 Premier League as contenders Manchester United lost to Leicester City.[55] On 29 May, Walker was in the starting lineup for the 2021 Champions League final, which Manchester City lost 1–0 to Chelsea.[56]

On 19 October 2021, Walker scored his first Champions League goal in a 5–1 away win over Club Brugge.[57] Manchester City won the 2021–22 Premier League on 22 May 2022 as teammate İlkay Gündoğan scored two goals in a 3–2 home victory against Aston Villa to overturn a two-goal deficit.[58][59]

2022–2023: Further success and continental treble

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Walker suffered a groin injury in October which rendered him unable to play for six Premier League games.[60] On 8 January 2023, he assisted Phil Foden for Manchester City's second goal in a 4–0 victory against Chelsea in the third round of the 2022–23 FA Cup.[61] In April 2023, Pep Guardiola shifted the tactics of Manchester City in the middle of the 2022–23 season, resulting in a decrease of starts and game time for Walker. Questioned on this in a press conference, Guardiola stated that Walker did not in his opinion have "every one of the characteristics" required for a new role in a 3–2–4–1 formation, but also mentioned that he had not "lost faith" in him.[62][63][64] During the 2022–23 Champions League season, Walker displayed incredible performances over two legs against Real Madrid in the semi-finals, being praised by analysts especially for nullifying the threat of Vinícius Júnior.[65][66][67][68] The embrace the two players shared enthusiastically after the first leg was cited as an example of good sportsmanship.[69][70]

On 20 May 2023, Walker won the 2022–23 Premier League after Arsenal lost 1–0 in a defeat to Nottingham Forest.[71] On 3 June, Walker won the FA Cup, beating Manchester United in the final, in which he started and played for 95 minutes.[72] On 7 June, Walker stated that Manchester City's treble bid was being driven by the desire to match Manchester United's treble in the 1998–99 season, claiming also that that the Manchester City and Liverpool teams of the present era should be considered as two of the best teams in Premier League history.[73][74] On 10 June, Walker was benched in the Champions League final against Inter Milan.[75][76] It was speculated by critics and fans that this omission was because of "a disturbance in his back", a problem which was revealed to the media by manager Pep Guardiola.[77] However, Guardiola later stated that it was because he needed "another type of player" for his game plan, despite the decision being "really tough".[75][76] Walker came on as an 82nd-minute substitute in the final, a match which ended in a 1–0 victory, completing Manchester City's continental treble.[78] He was selected in the 2022–23 UEFA Champions League team of the tournament.[79] Following the 2022–23 season, Walker was identified as a potential target for Bayern Munich by manager Thomas Tuchel.[80]

2023–present: Captaincy and UEFA Super Cup victory

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Walker playing for Manchester City in 2023

It was initially assumed that Walker had become vice-captain of Manchester City following the departure of captain İlkay Gündoğan, having previously held the role of third captain. It was presumed that the new captain was to be Kevin De Bruyne. On 6 August 2023, with De Bruyne benched, Walker captained his side in the 2023 FA Community Shield, which they lost on penalties to Arsenal. With De Bruyne having been injured on 11 August,[81] Walker captained his club in the 2023 UEFA Super Cup on 16 August 2023.[82] He scored the winning penalty as Manchester City beat Sevilla 5–4 in penalties after a 1–1 draw.[83] Walker later stated that he had been reluctant to take the final penalty, proclaiming that if anyone had played with him, they would know that he "[didn't] like taking penalties".[84] On 3 September, Walker stated that he had been close to joining Bayern Munich in the summer.[85] On 14 September, Walker signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him with Manchester City until June 2026.[86] However, following the return of De Bruyne from injury, it was confirmed that Walker would remain captain of Manchester City permanently. De Bruyne stated: "I'm number two, Walks [Walker] is number one".[87] He captained his side in the 2024 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United.[88]

International career

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Youth career

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Walker made his debut for the England national under-19 team on 10 February 2009, coming on as a 78th-minute substitute in a 3–0 home loss to Spain in a friendly.[89][90] His first start came on 25 March in another friendly, in which England drew 0–0 at home to the Czech Republic.[90] Walker was part of the England squad at the 2009 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, and played in every match as England went on to lose 2–0 to Ukraine in the final.[90] This was the last of his seven appearances for the under-19s.[90]

Walker's debut for the England national under-21 team came on 3 March 2010 when starting a 2–1 home defeat to Greece in a 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification group match.[91] At the end of the 2010–11 season, he was named in the England squad for the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Denmark.[92] Walker played in England's three matches at the tournament, and despite them being eliminated in the group stage he was named in the Team of the Tournament.[91][93] He finished his under-21 career with seven appearances.[91]

Senior

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2011–2020

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Walker playing for England at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Following his first run of regular Premier League starts, Walker was called up to the senior national team in February and March 2011.[94] However, he did not feature in any of the matches played, and pulled out of the squad in March due to an injury.[citation needed] He went on to make his debut in a 1–0 win over Spain, coming on for Scott Parker as a substitute in the 85th minute.[95] He made his first start on 15 November, in a 1–0 win against Sweden, after which he was the man-of-the-match.[96] He missed UEFA Euro 2012 because of a toe injury.[97]

He was named in the England squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.[98] Walker was deployed as a centre-back in a back three by England's manager Gareth Southgate[99] as the team reached the semi-final for the first time since 1990.

In June 2019, Walker scored an own goal against the Netherlands as England went out in the semi-finals of the 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals.[100] On 5 September 2020, he was sent off in a 1–0 away win over Iceland in the 2020–21 Nations League, becoming the first Englishman to get an international red card since Raheem Sterling in June 2014.[101]

2021–present

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On 1 June 2021, Walker was named in the England squad for the rescheduled UEFA Euro 2020. His performances during the tournament earned him a place in the Team of the Tournament as England made it to their first final in a major tournament since 1966.[102]

He was named in the England squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.[103] On the prospect of facing up against Kylian Mbappé in the quarter-finals, Walker stated that he would "not roll out a red carpet" for him.[104] Despite England's 2–1 loss to France in the match, Walker was praised for winning his individual battle against Mbappé.[105]

On 9 September 2023, Walker scored his first international goal during a 1–1 draw against Ukraine in a UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying match.[106] On 20 November 2023, in a 1–1 draw with North Macedonia, Walker captained England for the first time, becoming the 126th player to do so.[107]

He was named in England's 26-man squad for UEFA Euro 2024.[108] On 14 June 2024, Walker was named as England's vice-captain at the tournament.[109] He started at right back in the team's opening match of the tournament, playing the full 90 minutes of the 1–0 win over Serbia in Gelsenkirchen.[110] In the second Group C match against Denmark, he set up Harry Kane's opening goal in the 18th minute with a deflected cross from the right wing.[111] In the round of 16 match against Slovakia, Walker's long throw-in was flicked on by Marc Guéhi for Jude Bellingham's equalising goal in the 95th minute. He ended the match wearing the captain's armband after Kane was withdrawn at half-time of extra time.[112]

Style of play

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Kyle Walker is renowned for his speed and strength,[113][114][115] and has been identified by players such as Neymar and Eden Hazard as one of the toughest opponents they have ever faced.[116][117] He is considered to be instrumental to Manchester City's recent success,[118][119] and has been praised by both current and former teammates as one of the best and most accomplished full-backs in the world.[120][121] He is also a strong and physical defender who is comfortable in one-on-one situations and is adept at making tackles and interceptions.[122][123] Walker's defensive ability is further enhanced by his good reading of the game and his ability to anticipate opposition attacks.[124][125]

In addition to his defensive qualities, Walker is also a good attacking full-back who is capable of making overlapping runs and delivering crosses into the box.[122][126] His speed and stamina allows him to contribute in both attack and defence, and he is often seen covering large areas of the pitch in games.[123][124][125]

Personal life

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Walker married Annie Kilner, with whom he has four children,[127] in 2022, after a 12-year relationship.[128] He has also fathered a son and daughter by Lauryn Goodman.[129][130] After the news of his affair with Goodman broke, Walker publicly apologised to Kilner, stating that he had made "idiot choices" and needed to "own up to my mistakes".[131]

On 5 April 2020, Manchester City began a disciplinary procedure against Walker after it was reported that he had broken national lockdown rules and invited two sex workers to his home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.[132][133] On 7 May, it was again reported that he had broken lockdown rules by travelling to Sheffield to give a present to his sister and hugging her. He later admitted that he also visited his parents to pick up food. The club said they would not discipline him for this, citing the trips being for personal reasons. He later tweeted that he felt he and his family were being harassed and that the reports were affecting the mental health of his whole family.[134]

In March 2023, it was reported that Walker exposed himself to a woman in a Manchester bar.[135] It was later reported that Walker would not face criminal charges for his behaviour.[136]

Career statistics

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Club

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As of match played 25 May 2024
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Sheffield United 2008–09[137] Championship 2 0 2 0 0 0 3[a] 0 7 0
Northampton Town (loan) 2008–09[137] League One 9 0 9 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2009–10[138] Premier League 2 0 2 0
2010–11[26] Premier League 1 0 0 0 1 0
2011–12[139] Premier League 37 2 5 0 0 0 5[b] 0 47 2
2012–13[140] Premier League 36 0 1 0 2 0 11[b] 0 50 0
2013–14[141] Premier League 26 1 1 0 3 0 4[b] 0 34 1
2014–15[142] Premier League 15 0 0 0 3 0 3[b] 0 21 0
2015–16[143] Premier League 33 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 35 1
2016–17[144] Premier League 33 0 1 0 0 0 5[c] 0 39 0
Total 183 4 10 0 8 0 28 0 229 4
Sheffield United (loan) 2009–10[138] Championship 26 0 2 0 28 0
Queens Park Rangers (loan) 2010–11[26] Championship 20 0 20 0
Aston Villa (loan) 2010–11[26] Premier League 15 1 3 1 18 2
Manchester City 2017–18[145] Premier League 32 0 3 0 6 0 7[d] 0 48 0
2018–19[146] Premier League 33 1 5 0 3 1 10[d] 0 1[e] 0 52 2
2019–20[147] Premier League 29 1 2 0 4 0 6[d] 0 1[e] 0 42 1
2020–21[148] Premier League 24 1 3 1 4 0 11[d] 0 42 2
2021–22[149] Premier League 20 0 3 0 1 0 7[d] 1 0 0 31 1
2022–23[150] Premier League 27 0 5 0 1 0 5[d] 0 1[e] 0 39 0
2023–24[151] Premier League 32 0 5 0 0 0 6[d] 0 4[f] 0 47 0
Total 197 3 26 1 19 1 52 1 7 0 301 6
Career total 452 8 43 2 27 1 80 1 10 0 612 12
  1. ^ Appearances in Championship play-offs
  2. ^ a b c d Appearances in UEFA Europa League
  3. ^ Three appearances in UEFA Champions League, two appearances in UEFA Europa League
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  5. ^ a b c Appearance in FA Community Shield
  6. ^ One appearance in FA Community Shield, one appearance in UEFA Super Cup, two appearances in FIFA Club World Cup

International

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As of match played 10 July 2024[152]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
England 2011 2 0
2012 2 0
2013 6 0
2014 0 0
2015 3 0
2016 10 0
2017 9 0
2018 12 0
2019 4 0
2020 5 0
2021 12 0
2022 8 0
2023 8 1
2024 8 0
Total 89 1
As of match played 10 July 2024
England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Walker goal[152]
List of international goals scored by Kyle Walker
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition Ref.
1 9 September 2023 Wrocław Stadium, Wrocław, Poland 77   Ukraine 1–1 1–1 UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying [153]

Honours

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Queens Park Rangers

Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester City

England U19

England

Individual

References

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  2. ^ "Updated squads for 2017/18 Premier League confirmed". Premier League. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
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