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Famous Like Me > Footballer > W > Des Walker

Profile of Des Walker on Famous Like Me

Name: Des Walker  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 26th November 1965
Place of Birth: Hackney, London
Profession: Footballer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Des Walker (born November 26, 1965 in Hackney, London) was an England international footballer known for becoming one of Nottingham Forest's all-time heroes.

Walker, a pacy and hard-tackling central defender, was spotted playing locally in London and was signed by Forest in 1982 as an apprentice. Known for being unafraid of pitching youngsters into the first team if they were good enough, Forest manager Brian Clough, trying to build a second great side after his ageing European Cup winning team broke up, gave Walker his debut in March 1984 at the age of 18. Forest ended the Football League First Division season in third place.

Forest made progress with Walker and his fellow young graduates from the prolific youth academy gaining ground and plaudits. Further top half-finishes in the League were followed by a run to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1988 with Walker in outstanding form, to the extent that calls began to come from football observers for England coach Bobby Robson to select Walker to play for his country.

Forest exited the FA Cup that season to Liverpool but the following year won their first trophy for nine seasons when, with Walker again in outstanding form, they won the League Cup with a 3-1 victory at Wembley over Luton Town. Tragedy struck a week later, however, when Forest and Liverpool met for the second season in a row in the FA Cup semi-finals, and the Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans. When the game was re-scheduled, Walker struggled against a rampant Liverpool side who won 3-1.

There was joy a month later for Walker as Robson finally answered the calls for his international debut, and he duly came on as a substitute for Tony Adams in a game against Denmark. It wasn't long before Walker was a regular starter in the side, with competition for central defensive places hot at the time - Adams, Terry Butcher and Mark Wright were all also in contention.

Walker got his second League Cup winners' medal when Forest retained the trophy in 1990 with victory over Oldham Athletic and, despite a disappointing League season for Forest, Walker was a certain name on the list of 22 players whom Robson took to the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Walker started all seven of the games in which England would play, gaining international acclaim which was only overshadowed by another new young star in Paul Gascoigne. Playing in a three-man defence alongside Wright and Butcher (Adams didn't make the squad), Walker shrugged off knocks and fatigue to enjoy a superb tournament, which ended when England were knocked out on penalties by West Germany in the semi finals.

Walker subsequently became England's defensive lynchpin after Butcher decided to retire and his was one of the first names on the teamsheet even after Graham Taylor had taken over as manager. Back at Forest, he was again a key player as they chased the only trophy Clough had yet to win - the FA Cup.

Forest got to the final at Wembley but were beaten 2-1 by Tottenham Hotspur, with tragedy striking for Walker. The game was deep into extra-time at 1-1 when a Spurs corner was flicked dangerously on at the near post.

Walker, marking his man at the far post, was duly put under pressure and, in trying to head the ball clear of the Spurs player running with him, only succeeded in putting it into his own net. Spurs won as a result, and for Walker, a Spurs fan as a boy, it wasn't quite how he planned to carry out his childhood dream of scoring the winning goal for them in the FA Cup final.

It was always a source of amusement that Walker was not prone to scoring goals at all - unlike most central defenders, he wasn't frequently sent forward to add height to set-pieces. By the time 1992 began, he had not scored a single goal (at the correct end) in his eight year career. But that was to change.

On New Year's Day 1992, Forest played Luton in a League game and the game reached the last few minutes with Forest 1-0 down. Walker ventured forward as an emergency measure, as central defenders often do in such situations, and found himself chasing a long pass through on goal. Despite having no known finishing prowess and a goalscoring record to prove it, Walker unleashed a fierce shot into the roof of the net to earn Forest a point. The crowd and the rest of Forest team went berserk in their celebration of Walker finally breaking his duck.

Later that season, Forest reached another League Cup final, but lost it to Manchester United. Walker then travelled with the England squad to Euro 92 in Sweden but England failed to get beyond the group stages. After the tournament, he was sold to Italian side Sampdoria, coached by Sven-Göran Eriksson, for one and a half million pounds. He lasted just one season there, before returning to England to join Sheffield Wednesday for 2.7 million pounds.

Walker's pace suffered after a long-term injury and his England career was cut short as a result. He played in all of the qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup but, with England failing to get through to the finals in the USA, Walker's international career ended with 59 caps and, unsurprisingly, no goals.

He concentrated on club football, enjoying a long association with Sheffield Wednesday, making more than 300 appearances under eight different managers. He left in 2001, briefly to join his ex-Forest team-mate Nigel Clough at Burton Albion (where he was manager), but then he was asked to return to Forest, by now a struggling lower division side..

Walker made almost 60 more appearances for Forest, nearly a decade after he'd left them, before retiring at the age of 38 with a total of 354 appearances for the club to his name - and one goal.

He became first team coach at Forest afterwards but left in 2005 when Gary Megson was appointed as manager.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Des Walker