Gareth Southgate: ‘I’ve talked Kyle Walker out of England retirement twice

England boss Gareth Southgate reveals that he has twice talked Kyle Walker out of international retirement following his long-awaited first goal for the Three Lions.

Much has been made of England’s talent reserves at right-back, where the likes of Kieran TrippierTrent Alexander-ArnoldReece James and Ben White have all shone for their respective clubs.

However, despite his advancing years, Manchester City’s Walker remains England’s undisputed first-choice in that position, and the 33-year-old finally opened his account for his country on his 77th appearance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine

A deep-lying Harry Kane picked out the run of Walker with an inch-perfect pass over the top, and the defender produced a sublime first touch before poking home from close range to cancel out Oleksandr Zinchenko‘s opener.

The 33-year-old could have very well hung up his international boots without making the net ripple for the Three Lions, though, as Southgate has confirmed that Walker had thoughts of retirement after the most recent Euros and World Cup

However, the England boss was able to talk the “world-class” out of his decision on both occasions, although he joked that Walker may not be too happy with his manager for volunteering that information.

“I’ve talked him out of [international] retirement twice, 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 can he get,” BBC Sport quotes Southgate as saying.

“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 for him and how important he is for us. He’s probably not going to thank me for sharing that.”

Walker will soon celebrate his 12th anniversary as a full England international, having made his debut in a 1-0 friendly win over Spain in November 2011, nine months on from making the bench against Denmark.

The former Tottenham Hotspur man had already set up nine goals for his country before opening his Three Lions account in Wroclaw, which he described as a “relief”.

“To represent your country and be as fortunate as I have to have done that many times, to not have scored has been on my mind. Now I can tick that off, I’ve done it, and I’ve finally got an England goal. It’s just a relief,” Walker told

“I’ve played with H [Harry Kane] for a number of years now and I know that he likes to drop deep and look for that run. It shows how intelligent he [Kane] is as a footballer. He can drop deep, he can stay in behind and stay as a centre forward, as a number nine.

“I saw the gap and luckily he’s found me, which nine times out of ten he does find the person he passes to, and I put it away. I’m glad that I could help the team at the other end but first and foremost I’m a defender and my main job is stopping goals.”

Despite Walker’s maiden England goal, the draw with Ukraine brought the Three Lions’ 100% record in Euro 2024 qualifying Group C to an end, although they remain comfortably at the top of the rankings with 13 points from a possible 15.

Southgate’s side now take a break from competitive action to meet Scotland in a 150th Anniversary Heritage match at Hampden Park on Tuesday.

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