ENGLAND World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst says Sheffield-born defender Kyle Walker has the “potential” to become a world superstar.
On Sunday, ex-Blades youngster Walker was named the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year after an outstanding season at Tottenham Hotspurs. The 21-year-old beat off strong competition from Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck to scoop the trophy and cap a superb breakthrough campaign.
Indeed, his consistent form at club level for Spurs saw him earn his first full international cap in November as he made his debut as a late substitute in England’s 1-0 win over Spain at Wembley.
Walker, who began his career as a centre-forward before being converted into a full-back by his home-town club, made his first start three days later as the Three Lions defeated Sweden 1-0.
Boasting speed and stamina in abundance, Walker, who made nearly 40 senior appearances for the Blades before moving south, is expected to be included in England’s squad for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine this summer. He is vying with Glen Johnson and Micah Richards to be the country’s first-choice right-back.
Speaking exclusively to The Star, Hurst believes Walker possesses all the attributes to play at the highest level for many years to come.
Hurst, the scorer of a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final at the national stadium, said: “I didn’t really know Kyle’s background but watching him at Tottenham this year, he is very comfortable playing in a top class side. He has got something which most players would give their right arm for and that is pace. That is a huge asset in any position, whether it is up front or at the back. Pace is a tremendous asset.
“He has got the basics and it is just about building on and improving his game in the next year or two.
“Kyle has got the potential to be a world class player. He has got a bit to learn but if he continues to improve like he has done in the last 18 months to two years, you could see him being a regular and looked upon as one of the best right-backs in the world. That is a possibility if he continues to learn and improve. I have no doubt at all about that.”
Following his rapid progression, Real Madrid and Manchester United are believed to be interested in Walker’s signature.
“He is a great prospect,” added Hurst. “His final ball when he goes wide at times leaves a bit to be desired and he sometimes tries to take too many people on but unless he gets any injuries, Kyle should be England’s full-back for the next four to five years.”