Blood is said to be thicker than water but that does not ring true for Kyle Walker, with the Tottenham right-back’s own family hoping he slips up against Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup semi-finals.
Born and raised in the Steel City, the 24-year-old makes no secret of his Yorkshire roots and his love for the Blades, even going to Wembley last season to watch their FA Cup semi-final against Hull.
Walker spent many weekends as a child at Bramall Lane with his grandfather watching his idols Brian Deane and Peter Ndlovu, before stepping out on the hallowed turf himself.
The right-back remains a dyed-in-the-wool Blade despite only making a handful of appearances before leaving in 2009 for Spurs, who he will on Wednesday be hoping to help reach the Capital One Cup final at his boyhood club’s expense.
“It’s such an important game, especially for me,” Walker said.
“I have obviously supported the club since I was a boy and played for the club before I came here.
“I know their spirit and what the coaches will want. It’s going to take a lot of hard work for us to get to Wembley.”
This will be just the second time Walker has played United, having featured at Bramall Lane in an FA Cup third-round tie when on loan at Aston Villa four years ago.
“I played for my first game on loan for Aston Villa against United in the cup and scored,” the right-back said. “Not only that but it was with my left foot.
“I think as a professional footballer you have to do your job. My heart will always be with Sheffield United but I am a Tottenham player and they are my club.”
There are no such split loyalties for Walker’s family, though.
“No (they won’t be cheering me on) – they are Sheffield United fans,” he said. “Seriously.
“They obviously support me and want me to do well, but they will be wanting Sheffield United to go through, although it is a bit of a win-win situation for them because either way they will go to Wembley.”
Tottenham are overriding favourites for the two-legged semi-final, although they would be wise not get complacent against United.
The third-tier Blades have beaten five Premier League side since the start of 2014 and captain Michael Doyle believes they have “a brilliant chance” if the tie is still alive after the first leg.
“There’s a lot to play for and I’m sure Tottenham will be fired up,” Doyle said. “They’ll look at our previous results and performances in other cup games and I’m sure they’ll take note of that.
“They won’t underestimate us, especially as we’ve come so far and they’ll be looking to finish it in the first leg, so we’ve got to be on our guard.
“I just hope we can keep the tie alive. If we can, coming back to Bramall Lane will give us a brilliant chance.”
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