Kyle Walker has conceded that he is considering the prospect of retiring from international football after England’s heartbreaking World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of France in Qatar. All eyes were on the Manchester City right-back in his highly-anticipated duel with leading goalscorer Kylian Mbappe and the 32-year-old delivered the goods to nullify the Paris Saint-Germain superstar, although it eventually counted for precious little following the gut-wrenching 2-1 defeat in Doha.
The pulsating knockout clash at the Al Bayt Stadium had almost been billed as England against red-hot Mbappe but Walker, who displayed his mean mentality by snubbing a pre-match handshake with his opponent in the tunnel, showcased exactly why he is considered to be one of the best full-backs in world football with a stellar individual display.
Unfortunately for England, Walker has now indicated that he has a decision to make on his international future after featuring in his fourth major tournament with the Three Lions.
Hinting that now could be the time to pass on the baton, Walker told ITV following England’s quarter-final exit: “I’m not going to stand here and say it was the ref’s fault or anything like that.
“It’s a game of football and hopefully this young group of young players can go on to achieve bigger and better things.”
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Thankfully for England, they are stacked with top-class talent in the position and the future looks bright in the hands of Chelsea’s Reece James and Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Walker’s participation at the World Cup was thrown into doubt in October when he suffered a groin injury against Manchester United in the 6-3 derby victory at the Etihad Stadium.
The pacy right-back was then forced to undergo surgery on the issue but still, Southgate was willing to show his loyalty to the player by selecting him for Qatar.
He did not feature in each of England’s opening two Group B matches against Iran or United States before returning to the side in place of Kieran Trippier for the 3-0 win over Wales.
The former Tottenham defender, who has accumulated 73 caps for the Three Lions, has been a mainstay in the England set-up since the appointment of Southgate in 2016.
Walker was not prepared to draw conclusions on the future of the England manager, whose contract is due to run until after the 2024 European Championships.
He added on the Three Lions boss: “That’s not for me to discuss. He’s been fantastic for me personally. He’s a great man, great coach and he’s got a great bunch of players.
“Whatever he feels is the right decision, that’s down to him but the lads are fully behind him.”
Southgate revealed after his side were dumped out of the World Cup that he plans to sit down with the FA to discuss his future as he refused to provide any assurances that he will be continuing his post.
“Whenever I’ve finished these tournaments I’ve needed time to make correct decisions because emotionally you go through so many different feelings and the energy that it takes through these tournaments is enormous so I want to make the right decision, whenever that is, for the team, for England, for the FA,” Southgate stated.
“And I’ve got to be sure that whatever decision I make is the right one and I think it’s right to take a bit of time to do that because I know in the past how my feelings have fluctuated in the immediate aftermath of tournaments.”