Sheffield United have produced a number of players in recent years who have gone on to grace the top levels of English football.
Phil Jagielka, David Brooks and Harry Maguire have all represented clubs in the Premier League yet there is one player who undeniably stands out from the rest due to what he has achieved during his career.
After joining the Blades’ youth academy at the age of seven, Kyle Walker impressed throughout his development as a player before being handed the opportunity to make his senior debut at Northampton Town who were playing in the League One at the time. During a two months spell with the Cobblers in 2008, the full-back benefited significantly from learning from the club’s older players about all the tricks of the trade that lower league football can give to someone who is at the start of their career.
Despite impressing during his loan spell at Sixfields, Walker only featured sporadically under then-Blades boss Kevin Blackwell until being suddenly thrown into the action in the play-offs where he started both semi-finals and the final, which his side lost 1-0 to Burnley.
His individual performance during these games attracted the interest of Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp who signed both him and Naughton on a double deal reported to be worth £9m, according to the BBC. As part of the move, Walker was loaned back to the Blades until February 2010 when he recalled by Spurs.
A frustrating year in north London then saw the defender loaned out to Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa before he was finally allowed the chance to express himself for Tottenham in the 2011/12 campaign. After producing a number of brilliant performances for his new side, Walker became a mainstay in the starting eleven for the next six seasons. Yet although he was by no means a poor defender, it was under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino where he began to demonstrate the genuine world-class qualities that eventually caught the eye of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
Following the crescendo of a 2016/17 campaign which saw Walker sparkle for Spurs, he joined the Citizens for an initial fee reported to be £45m (via the BBC), making him one of the most expensive defenders of all time. Determined to prove his worth, the former Blades star soon became an ever-present for the City and helped his side achieve the double in his first season at the club, winning the Premier League and League Cup.
Walker then went on to represent England at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, performing brilliantly as a central defender which was, until the tournament, an unfamiliar role. Although the Three Lions would go on to lose in the semi-finals of the competition to Croatia, the players arrived back from the competition as heroes as they had undeniably inspired a nation to believe again.
The 2018/19 campaign could see Walker win a historic quadruple with City with the club being well-placed to achieve something that no English team has ever done. If they do win all four major trophies on offer, the 28-year-old could end his career with the legacy of being one of the Premier League’s best ever full-backs.
Sheffield United’s superb Championship campaign has put them in a fantastic position to join City in the top flight next season which would allow Walker to make his long-awaited return as a player to Bramall Lane in a league fixture after nine years away.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!
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