The England and spurs right-back on ketchup bans and unwinding with Jeremy Kyle
Were it not for a cruel toe injury, last season’s PFA Young Footballer Of The Year Kyle Walker would probably have played every England game at Euro 2012. As he prepares for England’s first two World Cup qualifiers, the speedy defender divulged what goes on during training with the England squad.
You’re known for your quick bursts down the line as a full-back. How do you work on your speed?
I must have inherited it from my dad – he’s put on a bit of weight now, but when he was younger he used to be very quick. I improve my sprinting ability with shuttle runs from box to box, or sometimes just inside the penalty box. Like any strength you have, you’ve got to keep working at it.
How else do you increase your pace?
Leg weights in the gym twice a week. I usually use heavier weights but do lower reps. My other gym work tends to be explosive, too.
The bench press. I’ve tried to build up my chest muscles over the past year. I use heavy weights in rapid bursts because I don’t need to trim down on body fat, I need muscle.
Are the England dietary team strict about what you eat?
It’s strict everywhere when it comes to football, but especially with the England camp. They don’t like us having carbs, but they’ll give us pasta, chicken, potatoes and rice before and after games to get our energy levels back up, which is always nice to look forward to.
Do any of the players in the England squad complain about the food they have to eat?
Tom Cleverley. I’ve been in the England set-up with him since the Under-21s, and I know he loves ketchup. He even has it on Sunday dinners. But when we were told we’re not allowed ketchup in the senior set-up, I could see the devastation on his face. It’s tough for me as well, because we’re not allowed butter, and that means dry toast. You have to make sacrifices in football.
If you stay on the training pitch after a session, what do you work on?
My crossing. I find the best method is to set a couple of mannequins out in the box and name them ‘one’, ‘two’ and ‘three’, then, in my head, I’ll say which one I’m going to try to hit.
Any tips on improving your touch?
It’s all about concentration. If you focus, you can tell how fast a ball is coming at you, which will change how hard or soft you will touch it. Another factor is to get it away from your opponent by knocking it on either side of them, and you have to be aware of body angle and the spin of the ball.
How do you practise your touch?
At the end of every England training session we have a game where a coach fires the ball from either side of the goalposts while you’re on the edge of the 18-yard area. He puts it in at all different speeds and heights and you have to keep it in the ‘D’, which allows you to have a shot.
How do you deal with nerves?
I think I experienced all my nerves at the start of my career when I played for Sheffield United, my hometown team, at Wembley in front of 86,000 people. I tend to be fine now and don’t let the occasion get the better of me. As a professional footballer, you need to enjoy football first and foremost.
How do you relax after training?
I’m a big fan of The Jeremy Kyle Show. When I finish training for Tottenham it’s on ITV2, but England training sessions can end later so I try my best to record it. That man can cheer you up no end; he really goes on at people.
Kyle’s killer tip
If it’s a cold day, rub Deep Heat on your toes just before you put your boots on – it will keep your feet warm. I don’t recommend wearing gloves though, I’m a northerner.
Kyle Walker wears the Umbro GT II Pro boots; umbro.com