Manchester City and England star Kyle Walker has opened up on the impact of his struggles growing up in Sheffield on his journey as a professional footballer.
The 32-year-old remains one of the finest graduates from Sheffield United’s academy, having gone on to win a plethora of domestic titles since he swapped Tottenham for Manchester City in 2017.
Despite struggling with injury since the start of the season, Walker won his race against time to prove his fitness and be named in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for the ongoing World Cup in Qatar.
Prior to England’s goalless draw against USA on Friday, Walker revealed how the challenges of his early years prepared him for any obstacles that lay ahead.
“That has just been my life. Your path is written out for you and what will be will be,” said Walker, who is yet to play any part in the Three Lions’ World Cup campaign, as quoted by the Mirror.
“I think it has moulded me into who I am as a person and I think your path is written out for you to experience certain things in life and I’ve had to go through and certain setbacks, certain doubts and highs as well which I have achieved at Manchester City.”
Walker grew up in Sharrow, Sheffield, where resilience was built into the defender from the challenges he faced as a kid. He joined Sheffield United when he was six.
“Maybe it is my upbringing, where I grew up, you had to survive. I am 32 now. I was not an adult. I was not aware of what was actually happening. If I look back on it now, I think, ‘That was actually quite bad’,” he added.
“There was a fire on the estate, which was bad. Or someone hung on the stairs when I was going up on my landing. Those two were probably the ones that stick in my mind.
“I was 12, 13. The police blacked it all off on the landing, it was right next to my house. Someone put petrol through the door at a neighbour’s house, chucked a match in and that was it.
“The kids got out, the caretakers caught them on some blankets and the mum threw them out, but she could not get out.
“I don’t tend to think about it now. I would not say it is part and parcel of growing up because no one should experience that. But it gives me that motivation to actually go and prove people wrong.”
Walker has risen as one of the best full-backs English football has produced since his £50 million switch to the Etihad Stadium, where he joined forces with Pep Guardiola, who signed a two-year extension at Manchester City this week.