Look at Pepe – Kyle Walker has no plans to call time on international career

Kyle Walker may be the oldest player in England’s Euro 2024 squad but he is taking inspiration from the likes of Pepe and Luka Modric, insisting he is nowhere near ready to hang up his international boots.

The 34-year-old has been a mainstay of Gareth Southgate’s side in recent years and is now playing in his fifth major tournament with England – who face Denmark in Group C on Thursday knowing victory will see them advance to the last 16 at Euro 2024.

Walker captained Manchester City to a fourth consecutive Premier League crown last season and remains among the top right-backs in the world.

Southgate revealed last year that he has twice had to talk Walker out of international retirement but now the defender is determined to keep going.

Kyle Walker speaks to Jordan Pickford
Kyle Walker is in his fifth major tournament with England (Martin Rickett/PA)

Asked if he thought this could be his last tournament and therefore add more motivation to win a first major international trophy, he replied: “Of course I want to go as far as I can.

“To represent my country as many times as I have done – honestly, I never thought I’d do it once, so to do it for the amount of years I’ve done it, I have to say is a credit to myself.

“But I look at Pepe last night and he’s 41 playing for Portugal. So, they’re the levels people are setting now, the likes of Luka Modric, people like that.

“These are people carrying on for top teams at a top level for a considerable amount of time. If they can do it, why can’t I?”

The 2026 World Cup in Mexico, Canada and the United States is a realistic target for Walker.

He would have just turned 36 by the time those finals roll around and is not putting a timescale on when he may take a step back, with Pepe having turned out for Portugal in their win over the Czech Republic to become the oldest player in the history of the European Championships.

“How long is a piece of string?” Walker said when asked how long he wants to go on representing England.

“I feel as long as you’re putting the performances in for your club which then gets you into the England fold – I’m in contention. I still feel great.

“A lot of people do bang on about my age but age is just a number to me. I still feel quick, I still feel strong, I still feel young. And even at my age I still want to learn.

Pepe played for Portugal at the age of 41 on Tuesday
Pepe played for Portugal at the age of 41 on Tuesday (Adam Davy/PA)

“I feel the game’s adapting all the time and with the youngsters that are coming in they’re showing me different things I can learn from and different techniques and I think every day is a learning day never mind if you’re 34 like me or 19 like Kobbie (Mainoo).”

Modric was a team-mate of Walker’s during their time together at Tottenham – where the England man also played alongside Christian Eriksen.

Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during a group game against Finland in Copenhagen with the game suspended until later in the evening.

With a defibrillator device fitted, Eriksen returned to football with Brentford.

Now at Manchester United, Eriksen’s story came full circle as he scored the only goal for Denmark in their opening draw against Slovenia last week.

Christian Eriksen (centre) celebrates with team-mates
Christian Eriksen (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring for Denmark (Nick Potts/PA)

Eriksen will come up against plenty of familiar faces in Frankfurt on Thursday, including Walker – the two having played together at White Hart Lane between 2013 and 2017.

“He’s fantastic, it is a testament to him,” Walker said of Eriksen’s comeback.

“Obviously, us both playing in Manchester for the different clubs we do bump into each other from time to time and have a catch up.

“But for what he’s done and what he’s achieved after the sad incident that happened, it just shows what a character he is and what he possesses really.

“I played a number of years with Christian Eriksen at Tottenham and in some moments he can produce magic on the drop of the hat.”