Ex-Sheffield United man Kyle Walker recalls childhood struggle after Man City treble history
As he stood pitchside with a Champions League winners’ medal around his neck and his place in footballing immortality set in stone, Kyle Walker allowed his mind to wander for a second back to his early days in Sheffield.
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Walker grew up on the Lansdowne estate in Sharrow, a good goal kick from Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane home ground, and vividly remembers a body on the stairs near his home. At “12 or 13”, a neighbour’s house had petrol poured through the letterbox followed by a lit match. The mum managed to save her kids but couldn’t get out herself.
Now 33, the former Sheffield United star has previously admitted using his surroundings as a youngster as motivation and allowed himself to cast his mind back to the early days not long after helping City beat Inter Milan in the final of the Champions League on Saturday evening, sealing the treble in the process.
“I’m living the dream,” the England international said. “My mum and dad are in the stand and where I’ve come from in Sheffield, it’s not easy. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that.
“For them to be here, for my memories with them ... my mum didn’t have a pound for an ice cream van. So for them to be here, god bless her, I’m just so thankful. I’m over the moon.
“I’m very rarely speechless, but my dream has just come true. To achieve this with this club, for everything that they’ve done for every single one of us over the years and to achieve a treble, it’s unbelievable.”
Walker came off the bench to help Pep Guardiola’s side over the line, after Rodri’s second-half strike had put them on course to become only the second English side in history to win the treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, after city rivals Manchester United in 1999.
City rode their luck at times and were indebted to a superb save from Ederson to deny Romelu Lukaku, who also blocked a goalbound effort from his own teammate Federico Dimarco after his header had hit the bar.
Walker was naturally disappointed to start on the bench but, speaking to BT Sport, revealed a pre-match speech in the City dressing room at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
“I’m 33 now and I have to make sure my example is set for the younger lads,” he added. “I made a speech before they went out and it was emotional but this club means so much to me. I’ve been here six years now and to give me what it’s given me and the experiences I’ve had, I’ll be forever in debt.
“I said that my dreams were in their hands. No pressure then! You can’t say that Inter deserved it more than us or we deserved it more. We were both here on merit but there has to be a loser and I said to the lads, we need to make sure we leave everything on that pitch.
“We can’t work as hard as we have done all season, to throw it away. I thought the lads dug deep tonight. The occasion is obviously going to get to you but to come away with a gold medal this time is fantastic.”