Men's Team

How inspirational Walker was always destined to shine

How inspirational Walker was always destined to shine
Kyle Walker’s superb football intelligence and hunger to further his knowledge marked the City and England full-back out as a special talent from his formative teenage years.

And under the inspired tuition of City manager Pep Guardiola, Walker has gone on to help revolutionise the role of a modern day full-back.

That’s the glowing testimonial provided by Kevin Fogg, one of the key figures who helped oversee Walker’s development as a promising Under-16 and 17-year old during his time as Sheffield United’s Assistant Academy Manager.

In his four years at City since moving to the Etihad in 2017, Walker has been nothing short of a revelation with his defensive excellence, searing pace and unerring consistency proving key components in our success-laden era under manager Pep Guardiola.

Walker has also shown himself to be tactically astute, being deployed to great effect both as an inverted full-back where he is positioned further up the field as well as also operating impressively as part of a back three.

CITY+ | SIGN UP TO ACCESS EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

The latest recognition of his all-round excellence saw the 31-year-old included in the UEFA Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament.

In the first of a special two-part feature on the full-back’s crucial formative years, Fogg revealed how those raw ingredients were already evident in Walker’s formative teenage years – not least in an attentive attitude that marked him out from his peers even as a raw 16-year-old.

“Kyle played centre-back and then he moved to right-back because of his attacking skills. He was a very, very good crosser of the ball on the run and that is a dying art,” recalled Fogg who is now coaching at Sheffield Wednesday.


                        RAW POWER: Kyle Walker pictured in action for Sheffield United
RAW POWER: Kyle Walker pictured in action for Sheffield United

“There are one or two in the England squad who can do it, but nobody can do it better than Kyle. And he has got an excellent shot on him.

“The most important thing was that his attitude was A1. He always wanted to learn. He was no trouble. I have kept in contact with his mum and dad throughout his journey.

“I can remember him coming into the office once and he had just got sponsored boots. He had just got his first England shirt, I think it was Under-19s level, and he gave one to a fellow coach Ron Reid and one to myself.

“His heart has always been in the right place and Kyle understands where he has come from.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE OFFICIAL MAN CITY PODCAST

“I don’t think those traits will have changed from a schoolboy to where he is now. He must be a coach’s dream.

“I’m very proud of him and what he has done, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went into coaching. He’s always had an opinion about the game and with the experience he has had, it would be a shame not to pass that on.”

Fogg also revealed how from his earliest footsteps in the professional game, Walker demonstrated the maturity and application which – alongside outstanding talent and technique – are pre-requisites in order to reach the very top of the profession.


                        LIONHEART: Walker was one of the standout performers in England's march to the Euro 2020 final
LIONHEART: Walker was one of the standout performers in England's march to the Euro 2020 final

And he said alongside his tireless work ethic, the City defender also treated everyone with respect and consideration.

“As soon as Kyle came in full-time, you could see the change in him. He adapted to the rigours of professional football really well because he was so hungry,” Fogg revealed.

“He gave himself the best opportunity by his work ethic, his pace and wanting to know his role and responsibilities in the team. He grew up very quickly with his attitude.

DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL MAN CITY APP

“He was very respectful. We would look at who was picking the bibs or the balls up – he was always taking leadership like that.”

And asked whether Walker had helped revolutionise the role of the modern right-back over the course of four magnificent seasons at Manchester City, Fogg was unequivocal in his verdict – as well as to who was the catalyst.

“Without a shadow of a doubt – and it has coincided with Pep,” he asserted.


                        KEY FIGURE: City boss Pep Guardiola has helped Walker elevate his game to new heights
KEY FIGURE: City boss Pep Guardiola has helped Walker elevate his game to new heights

“The manager has encouraged him to be aggressive, but selective with his runs. That’s what he does.

“Kyle used to go gung-ho at one time. If you watched him at Tottenham and Sheffield United, he would see the space and go, but sometimes if you do that have left the space behind you to be exploited.

“Tactically, he has learnt when and when not to go.”

TOMORROW: The making of Walker the leader.

WATCH: Quickfire questions: Kyle Walker
View all club partners

Mancity.com

31?
loading