Why a piece of Sheffield United history may be on Wembley pitch with Man City's Kyle Walker if he plays in England's crunch Euros clash with Germany
If, as expected, Sheffield’s Kyle Walker is picked to face Germany in England’s European Championship last-16 clash at Wembley tomorrow, a little piece of Sheffield United history could be on the pitch with him.
The Manchester City full-back, now an England international and three-time Premier League winner, still wears the same shin-pads he was given by a fellow Blades defender when he was a youngster with the Blades.
“My favourite right-back at the time at Sheffield United [was] Derek Geary,” Walker said. “He gave them to me and I've never changed them. I've still got them with me now. They're a couple of years old now!”
Walker made the admission to SportBible in an interview ahead of the crunch last-16 clash, with England looking to win their first knockout game against the Germans since the final of the 1966 World Cup.
Now 31, Walker is one of four players in Gareth Southgate’s squad to have graduated from United’s youth academy – even if his route into the Blades’ set-up was unconventional.
"I slept at my friend's house and it was his brother, Akeem and Ismail - there wasn't any space in the car because his cousin was coming to pick him up and take him to a little coaching session that was happening in a park," Walker added.
"I said I would go home and wait for them to come back. Ten minutes later he knocked on the door and said that the cousin's sister didn't end up coming up - the dad didn't have to bring the little girl so there was a space for me.
"The rest is history. I went and trained and there was a scout from Sheffield United called Paul Archer who asked if I wanted to play for them.
"I never even played Sunday League football or anything. I went straight from estate football to the park at six or seven and then Sheffield United."
Walker is expected to win his 58th cap for England against Germany, after helping his country to keep three clean sheets in their three Euros games so far.
"It's the pinnacle of everyone's career," he said. "You want to go and represent your country first and foremost but to represent your country in a tournament is a special occasion - especially at Wembley.
"We need to really show the fans how far we've come as a team in the last couple of years. It's always good to get the country behind us but I think we've set the bar now. We've set the expectations high now and we need to live up to them.
"There's good players in this team who can deal with that pressure, and we need to put our best foot forward and attack this tournament with the powers that we've got really.
"To play in front of your fans is always the best. We need to make it as difficult as possible for teams coming to play at Wembley. We know the pitch; we know the stadium and we've got the 12th man behind us."