Kieran Trippier is undaunted at the prospect of battling his friend Kyle Walker for England’s right-back position at next summer’s World Cup having spent two years in his shadow at Tottenham Hotspur. While Walker begins life at Manchester City following his £50m move last week, Trippier knows this is his moment to shine.
With Russia 2018 on the horizon, the timing could not have been better for the 26-year-old who made his full international debut against France in June. Trippier signed a new five-year deal following Walker’s departure and is determined to repay the faith shown in him by Mauricio Pochettino by excelling for club and country. “For the past two years I’ve been waiting patiently for my opportunity,” he said before Spurs’ friendly match with Paris Saint-Germain in Orlando on Sunday.
“I haven’t moaned about that, I have just kept working hard in training and I know with the players I am playing with, I will only get better.”
Trippier began his career at City yet was forced to leave following the arrival of Abu Dhabi billions in 2008 and found his way to Burnley before Spurs paid £3.5m in 2015 to bring him to north London. “The best decision for me was to go to Burnley, play every week and try and reach the top again, “ he said.
“‘Walks’ has gone now, we were very close and have been with each other from England under-19 level. I’ve texted him wishing him luck but now is a good opportunity for me to work hard in pre-season, impress the manager as much as I can and hopefully get more games.”
With Walker and Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne also fighting for a place in the England starting XI, competition is fierce. Trippier, however, who was used by Pochettino in some key games last season ahead of Walker, is unfazed.
“It was one of the proudest moments of my life, putting on that England shirt,” said the full-back, speaking at an event with members of Special Olympics.
“I’ve got to thank the manager for that. I’ve learned a lot off the manager and the players since coming here. He’s taught me a lot defensively and offensively.
“My dream is always to play for England. I always wanted to try to do it, I’ve tried and tried. I’m at the best club for me now and every time I pull the shirt on I want to do my best for Tottenham and hopefully my performances are good enough to get picked for England.
“I have had a taste of it and I am hungry for more. There’s the World Cup next year which is a target for me.
“I just need to do well for Tottenham. Every game I play I need to put a performance in because you’ve got Walks at City, Clyne at Liverpool, so there’s tough competition. I just need to focus on myself and believe in myself, which I do.”
Spurs have yet to make inroads in a summer transfer market which has seen Manchester United and Everton spend almost £200m between them while Chelsea and Manchester City have also been very active.
Christian Eriksen, the Danish midfielder who arrived with seven other players in 2013 following the sale of Gareth Bale for £85m yet remains the only one who succeeded in north London, is adamant Pochettino’s squad building over the past three years means huge outlays are simply not required.
“It’s an English thing where you have to spend money to win something apparently,” he said. “When I came [to the club] there were seven new players at the same time and you saw how that ended. Now the last few seasons we haven’t bought as many players and it’s changed around.
“Of course, you have to have a philosophy. You need a plan and it looks like we have one.”