Making your full Premier League debut for your boyhood club in the first game of a new season is enough to make most players feel like a bundle of nerves.
That was exactly the situation Kyle Walker-Peters was facing at the start of the 2017/18 season when he was poised to make his debut against Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
However, the pressure on the 23-year-old’s shoulders went up another notch as he was actively singled out by an opposition player in the tunnel before a ball was even kicked.
The right-back has revealed that Newcastle midfielder, Jonjo Shelvey, let him know in no uncertain terms that he would be targeted as a potential weak link in the game.
The Spurs defender, who is currently on loan at Southampton, revealed that while Shelvey’s words did make him nervous, he gained confidence as soon as he won his first header.
Speaking to Dele Alli and Rio Ferdinand as part of the Copa 90 FIFA series, Walker-Peters said: “Going into it (his debut against Newcastle) was nervous as going into in the tunnel before the Newcastle tunnel is quite tight, and I remember Jonjo Shelvey saying ‘give me the ball at kick-off, I’m putting it on his head’,” Walker-Peters recalls.
“And I remember he did exactly that, he’s got crazy technique, he put it right on my head and I won the header and that gave me confidence for the whole game.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Walker-Peters went on to put in an extremely competent performance in that match and displayed both his defensive and offensive attributes. At that point, I was convinced that it was only a matter of time before the 23-year-old broke into the team and made the right-back spot his own. However, since then, he has been bullied defensively by a couple of strong and quick wingers and I don’t think he has a future under Jose Mourinho.
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