Kyle Walker: This is the best team spirit I’ve known at Tottenham
Kyle Walker says the team spirit at Tottenham is the best he has known, and he believes that gives Mauricio Pochettino’s young squad the potential to eclipse the achievements of previous sides.
Walker joined Spurs from Sheffield United in the summer of 2009 and has played 174 games for the Lilywhites.
He was part of the side that finished fourth and reached the FA Cup semi-final under Harry Redknapp in 2012, but he feels the togetherness in the camp means the current crop can reach greater heights.
Asked if this is the best Spurs side he has played in, Walker said: “It’s a difficult one, because as a team it’s probably the best team spirit I’ve had, with people gelling, people knowing where people are going to run, and the gaffer and his philosophy is unbelievable.
“I played with Bale, Modric, Lennon in his prime, Adebayor when he was in his prime, Saha, so I’ve played with some good players, but this is an exciting team and it’s a pleasure to be a part of.
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“Does this team have the greatest potential? Without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a young team and an exciting team. It’s a pleasure to play with them and train with them day in and day out because the training is just as good as the games.
“We’ve always had a good bunch of lads at Spurs, even from when I first came here to now. We’re always very welcoming, the banter’s always flying but I think we’re gelling together as a team. There’s no-one saying they’re bigger than anyone else and that’s vital.
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“There are some experienced players here, some international players. Hugo [Lloris] is France’s captain and he’s a big presence in the dressing room but he still speaks to everyone with respect - he doesn’t talk down to anyone, and I think it’s key for someone coming through.
“Obviously if they do overstep the mark they are told, but they do know where they stand and I think that’s key in this team.
“I’m 25 now so I’m getting on a bit in this side! I think I’m the most experienced player at Tottenham in terms of games played for the club, so I try to help [the young players] as much as possible, but their football does the talking. They’re not kids. Well, they are kids but they don’t play like kids and it makes everything easier.”
Tottenham continued their bid for a top-four finish with a 1-1 draw at Everton on Sunday, with Dele Alli equalising after ex-Spurs winger Aaron Lennon had scored against his former club.
Walker felt Spurs deserved more but, while the Lilywhites remain fourth in the table, he is not getting carried away by the suggestion that Champions League football could be returning to White Hart Lane this year.
“We hit the post twice in the first half but it’s always difficult to come to Everton,” he said. “They’ve got some good players in good areas so you know they’re always going to be a threat, but we played extremely well and we were probably unlucky to come away with a draw.
“There’s still a long way to go. Anything can happen in the season and I know that probably more than anyone with getting into the top four in 2012 and Chelsea winning the Champions League. It’s still early days. We need to keep doing what we’re doing, keep our feet on the floor.”
Nonetheless, Walker feels Tottenham have no need to fear any of their rivals in the Premier League.
“Not with how the season has gone for other teams and also how we’re playing, more importantly,” he said. “We’ve done really well and we’ve got some good players in good areas. Dele’s come into the fold and done extremely well. H [Harry Kane] is always going to get you goals. Erik Lamela has come on in leaps and bounds this year, and he is really showing us what he can do.”
Walker has struggled with injuries over the last two years but has been a regular fixture in the side this season, starting every league game apart from one – and he is keen to earn a place in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the European Championship in France this summer.
“Last season I was always playing catch-up, no matter what I say,” he said. “I missed pre-season and for any footballer it’s vital to get a pre-season, get the engine running.
“I didn’t get it running and I was still trying to get it running in the season when everyone’s halfway through.
“I’ve just been trying to get my head down this season. I’ve got good competition with Tripps [Kieran Trippier] coming in, so it’s made me push my game on and there’s a prize at the end of it.
“If we get in the top four, keep doing well, then hopefully there’s the Euros coming up in the summer, which would be the icing on the cake.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs