Manchester City vice-captain Kyle Walker has looked ahead to the opening games of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday night, covering a wide range of subjects in his media duties.
Walker has remained an integral part of the club’s success both on and off the field for a number of years, and put in vital showings against both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in particular last season to book the club’s place in the Istanbul Champions League final.
Following the club’s breakthrough moment in the competition, Walker is now looking to win back-to-back trophies in the competition, and is expected to be part of the starting line-up that will take on Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium this week.
While there have been hiccups in his performances so far this season, Kyle Walker’s physicality despite being 33-years-old continues to impress, and the belief in the player’s longevity was highlighted by the club sanctioning a two-year extension to his deal, keeping him in sky blue until at least the summer of 2026.
Looking ahead to Tuesday night’s clash in Europe’s premier club competition, Kyle Walker has faced the media alongside Pep Guardiola, discussing topics such as the club’s newly-voted leadership group for the 2023/24 season, the drive to keep winning, and being left out of the Champions League final starting line-up at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium last June.
Here is every word from Manchester City’s right-back at the City Football Academy on Monday afternoon!
On new Manchester City’s 2023/24 leadership group vote
“It’s come in and the five captain’s chosen. We’ll lead the team for the foreseeable season and make sure the fines are paid up. The order doesn’t matter, it’s down to me, Kevin (De Bruyne), Rodri, Ruben (Dias) and Bernardo Silva. I’m honoured to lead the players and I’ll lead by example.”
“We don’t do fines in all honesty. If it’s arriving ten minutes late for a team meeting, it’s paying for a meal. If there’s anyone to collect it, it’s Ruben (Dias) and Rodri.”
“Bernardo’s shown on the pitch how important he is to the team. Off the pitch what you don’t see. He’s a really good relationship with the manager, if we want days off we’ll get him to ask.”
On Manchester City’s mentality this season after winning the Treble
“It’s our job. The manager believes in us and we’re all great players. The hunger is still in the squad. The manager doesn’t settle for second, we need to follow in his footsteps. What we’ve done is in the past, we draw a line.
“The manager drew a diagram at the first game of the season; we start at the bottom of the mountain. We’ve won the Champions League and Premier League, to go again separates good and great teams.”
On his own personal performances this season
“It’s difficult to say if it’s my best period. I go out every game to perform at the best of my own ability. The team is winning, I’m playing good football. I’ve ticked off some milestones, to score for England was a big relief. To take plaudits from the manager is nice but it’s a team game and putting three points on the board – keep putting in performances is more than enough.
On the pressure to win multiple Champions League titles
“The pressure to win multiple, you’re speaking to the wrong person. We’ve brought (Mateo) Kovacic in who’s won four. His experience in going again, he can bring that to the table. It’s exciting, we’ve done it in the Premier League, we have to go and do that.
“You need a bit of luck, it’s a competition of 13 games, things have to swing your way. Eddy doesn’t make the save (against Inter in the Champions League final) and it could be a different outcome.”
On the reasons behind staying at Manchester City
“Why should I want to leave? It was about the years, I’m 33 now. I didn’t really want to sign another year to have this conversation in another year. I’m settled and you’re seeing the performances that it’s not on the back of my mind.
“I wanted to stay at this club for as long as possible. Why should I leave a club with three Premier League titles in a row, the treble. If I leave, I don’t score the winning penalty in the Super Cup.”
“I feel great. The recovery takes a bit longer and I’m spending longer in the ice bath. It’s doing things personally to be fit and ready to continue to be in the team.”
On his Wolf of Wall Street-inspired contract extension announcement video
“I’m not taking compliments. It’s the media team and my social media. It went down a treat, so I’m happy I entertained you.”
On Istanbul Champions League final memories
“I didn’t think (about it) until I arrived back in Manchester. I played golf after England, and a (Manchester) City fan came up to me and said thank you. It hadn’t set in what we achieved. Someone who came up (to me) and said thank you, we’re doing it for thousands and millions who support this team. England, to represent this country as well.”
On potentially retiring at Manchester City
“I hope so, I’m here until 36. If they give me another one (contract), I’ll happily sign and they’ll have to wheel me out of here. I’m happy, why should I think of the future? I’ve got to make sure it’s a successful season. If Txiki (Begiristain) is listening, will I have another contract?”
On the Champions League Final selection
“It’s not my decision, it’s down to the manager and how we were playing at that moment he could have picked 16 of us. He has to pick 11. I was unfortunate not to make that. It’s not a solo sport. I think about the team. I spoke before the team (went out to play the final), fingers crossed it worked. We got the job done and got our hands on the trophy.”
“He (Pep Guardiola) pulled me the night before, it’s the relationship we have. I say a massive thank you, to find out in the morning, it would have been tough. I slept on it, and then gave the speech. If he did it on the day, I’d have been disappointed. The reason was for him to put the 11 on to best win the game. He felt that was the team to go and win.”
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