Kyle Walker-Peters: “I learned things about myself that night”
Fri 24 May 2019, 12:20|Tottenham Hotspur
Our incredible run to the Champions League Final has produced moments we’ll remember forever, moments we’re currently detailing in our ‘Champions League moments’ series, moments that took us to Madrid.
The journey hasn’t all been a bed of roses, as we all know. There have been tough times along the way and one in particular an Academy graduate from Edmonton will remember for the rest of his life.
Kyle Walker-Peters joined our Academy full-time in 2013 and made his first team breakthrough in 2017/18, including a first appearance in the Champions League off the bench in the group stages against APOEL.
Now the one of the biggest stages in world football awaited.
Matchday Six, 11 December - Barcelona at the Nou Camp, Kyle's first start in the Champions League. On the line, qualification from the group stage. More than likely we would have to beat the La Liga giants in their back yard.
Disaster struck in the seventh minute. Barca cleared our free-kick, Moussa Sissoko nodded the ball back to Kyle but he lost possession on halfway to Ousmane Dembele. The French star went through the gears to goal, turned inside Harry Winks’ attempt to block and tucked home. 1-0 down in a game we probably needed to win – at the Nou Camp.
But we know what happened from there. The strength and mentality of the team that had already come through must-win tests against PSV and Inter shone brightly. Chances came and went. Jasper Cillessen was a man on a mission in the Barca goal.
We needed a goal but couldn’t concede a second. Philippe Coutinho struck the post twice and in-between, another effort looked goalbound until Kyle threw himself in to block.
Eventually, with five minutes left, Harry Kane crossed for Lucas Moura to equalise. That was enough. Inter drew with PSV and we were through, another step negotiated on the road to Madrid.
“That night, I learned things about myself I didn’t even know,” reflected Kyle at Hotspur Way this week. “How can I put it? If I was at home and I thought about that happening I wouldn’t imagine myself recovering in the way I did.
“I ended up blocking a chance from Philippe Coutinho at 1-0 in the second half and had a decent game. I learned a lot in that match and the reaction I got from people was all positive.
“I give credit to all my team-mates, Danny Rose, Harry Kane, as soon as I made the mistake, they were straight over to me and saying ‘stay calm, you’ve got the ability, keep playing’. That’s what I did and their words helped me a lot.”
Recently turned 22, Kyle has added 10 appearances in all competitions this season as he continues to push Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier.
He added: “It’s hard to describe this season. The main thing for me is that it shows the manager has faith in me and I’ve said that on numerous occasions. For me, that’s most important.
“It’s been a good season, again. The manager has given me opportunities at different times and I’ve just done my best. It’s up to me to take those chances and show what I can do. On the whole, it’s been good.
“We’ve finished in the top four again in the Premier League, qualified for Champions League again next season and now we’re in the Champions League Final. I can’t complain!”