Kyle Walker has considered retiring from international football on two occasions, England manager Gareth Southgate has revealed.
The Manchester City right-back, who is set to imminently sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium following showdown talks with Pep Guardiola, scored his first England goal during Saturday’s draw with Ukraine.
Walker cancelled out former teammate Oleksandr Zinchenko’s opening goal at the Stadion Miejski in Wroclaw, as England drew their latest European Championship qualifier.
The Three Lions conclude the September international break with a friendly against Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday, with the 2024 UEFA European Championship in Germany on the horizon.
Next summer’s tournament will be Kyle Walker’s latest for England, with the 33-year-old having been representing the nation for over a decade, after making his senior debut in November 2011.
Walker featured predominantly at the World Cup in both Qatar and Russia, and was part of the England squad that suffered Euro Final defeat to Italy in 2021, at Wembley Stadium.
The Englishman had been linked with a potential exit from the Etihad Stadium over the summer, with Bayern Munich heavily interested in signing the Manchester City right-back.
Pep Guardiola successfully persuaded the defender to stay with the treble-winners, and England manager Gareth Southgate has revealed that he had to talk Walker out of retiring from international football on two separate occasions.
“It’s always all credit to him and I’ve talked him out of retirement twice,” revealed the current England head coach.
“Out of international football, after the Euros and after the World Cup, I think he loves being here and he’s wanted to keep going and now he’s thinking about how many caps he can get.
“He’s critical to us. If we’re talking about world-class players in their position in our team then he’s probably one of them.”
“I think he didn’t realise how much value we have him and how important he is for us. He’s probably not going to thank me for sharing that!”
“It doesn’t always happen but he has [got better with age], I think, not only playing but also around the training, the way I hear him speak when he’s interviewed, his influence on the group, he’s become a really mature leader for us.
“But also the way he’s trained all week, his influence on younger players in the group. His all-round game, great composure in a position where you don’t always find it and our senior players were important, and he was the pick against Ukraine.”
Walker has 77 senior caps for England, and continues to enjoy success at a club level as well, having won 15 trophies with Manchester City since signing from Tottenham in 2017.
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