England’s Kyle Walker ready to move on from bad decision making during lockdown
Kyle Walker admits to bad decision making during the coronavirus lockdown but now hopes to move on having talked things through with Gareth Southgate ahead of his England recall.
A key part of the squad that reached the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, the Manchester City right-back has not played for his country since the Nations League finals in June 2019.
Southgate wanted to look at younger options but phoned the in-form 30-year-old in March to tell him he would be recalled, only for those friendlies to be scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The subsequent period saw Walker involved in some high-profile incidents, with the full-back reportedly hosting a party and travelling to South Yorkshire to visit his sister and parents at different addresses.
“I reflect on, you know, my decision making,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It was bad decisions from me at an important time for the country and the world. I take full responsibility for that but I’m moving on now.
“I think I came back from the lockdown with Manchester City and hit the ground running, played some really good football. Hopefully I can continue that in an England shirt.”
Asked further about the situation, Walker told talkSPORT: “Obviously me and the boss spoke after the lockdown incidents and, you know, he assured me that we all make mistakes.
“Obviously, mine was on a bigger scale and gets magnified with me being in the public eye and a role model to young children growing up, so I have to take full responsibility for my actions, which I have done.
“But now I’m just moving on. I’m so happy to be here. It’s lovely to see some of the lads again that you don’t get to see so regular.
“Trips (Kieran Trippier), I’ve missed him dearly – even though I do play on the PlayStation with him. But just to see him and give him a fist pump, it’s been good.”
Back in the squad after a 15-month absence, Walker says he already feels part of the family again having returned to a group that has changed for the better under Southgate’s leadership.
England have certainly come a long way from one of the Three Lions’ darkest days at Euro 2016, when Iceland inflicted a shock 2-1 defeat in the round of 16.
“I’ve tried really hard to erase it out of my memory because I think with the team that we had and how we were playing individually for club level was very good,” said Walker, who started that match in Nice and could face them again in Saturday’s Nations League clash.
“I just don’t think we got it right on the night and you have to take your hats off Iceland. They came and gave us a game.
“I always say us scoring so early probably killed our game a little bit because we took the foot off the gas.
“But I think it’s a learning curve that we’ve learned from now, especially with this team and this group of managing staff, just the aura around the team I think is a lot better and it’s a winning mentality.”
Walker can reach 50 caps if he plays against Iceland and Denmark in the coming week. He would be very proud to be reach his half-century and dreams of being part of next summer’s rearranged European Championship.
“Listen, if I keep playing for Manchester City and keep playing well and performing well, then, you know, hopefully I’m in contention,” Walker added.
“Time doesn’t wait for no one, as they say, and I’m not getting any younger.
“But I still feel fit. I’m still racking up the games throughout the season and being involved in nearly enough everyone.
“So, as I say, I’ve just got to keep going, keep working, keep doing the stuff that I do outside of football, whether that’s eating right or doing my extra gym work and strengthening work to make sure that I’m ready when called upon.”