Soccer

Kyle Walker hails Marc Guehi’s strong performance in England victory over Serbia

The Crystal Palace centre-back was selected alongside John Stones at the heart of Gareth Southgate’s defence for the Group C opener.

Kyle Walker (left) hailed Marc Guehi’s performance against Serbia
Kyle Walker (left) hailed Marc Guehi’s performance against Serbia

Kyle Walker has heaped praise on Marc Guehi after the England defender shone on his tournament debut in the Euro 2024 victory over Serbia.

The Crystal Palace centre-back was selected alongside John Stones at the heart of Gareth Southgate’s defence for the Group C opener, with Harry Maguire having missed out on the squad through injury.

Guehi looked calm and assured in his first outing at a major finals and helped England’s rearguard keep Serbia at bay and secured a hard-fought 1-0 win.

Playing next to Guehi, the far more-experienced Walker – with 84 caps to Guehi’s 12 – was impressed with what he saw from the 23-year-old.

“Marc, from the moment he stepped into the camp, he properly stepped into that role,” he said.

“You can see, obviously, there’s going to be pressure. I think everyone feels pressure.

“I’m the oldest head in the camp and I still go out onto the pitch and you still feel a bit anxious, you feel a bit nervous, just because you want to do everyone proud.

“But Marc, I thought he was fantastic.

“He didn’t put a foot wrong and hopefully that has got his feelings right now and settles the nerves a little bit and we can form a good partnership along that back line.”

Guehi, meanwhile, was quick to thank Walker and the other experienced heads in the team as he told UEFA.com: “The most important thing was the win and we need that, so now we need to focus, improve and go onto the next one.

“I enjoyed it a lot. It was a great atmosphere and I’m just glad I was able to play with such experienced players.

“They make life a lot easier for me, with their talking, positioning and how much they help me and the team.”

Much of the talk in the build-up to the start of England’s tournament was about whether the defence was good enough to hold up throughout the competition if Southgate’s side were to go far.

But Walker was bullish when asked if he had seen such suggestions and whether the players set out to prove doubters wrong.

“The media like to build up a storm and put thoughts in your head that probably shouldn’t be there,” he said.

“All of these players are fantastic players, I have played against them numerous times in the Premier League and I know what they can do.

England’s rearguard keep Serbia at bay and secured a hard-fought 1-0 win
England’s rearguard keep Serbia at bay and secured a hard-fought 1-0 win (Adam Davy/PA)

“Never mind who’s here, who’s not here, whoever was going to represent England are very good players.

“So we use the players that we’ve got and we work to our strengths when other people can cover up other people’s weaknesses, it is as simple as that.

“If you keep clean sheets in tournaments, you have a very good chance of going on and winning it.

“Listen, we’ve got off to a good start. I thought we defended well against obviously a physical side, but still there’s room for improvement.

“Obviously, it’s a lot of anxiousness around the camp with the first game. You want to get off to a good start, obviously wanting to do the country proud.

“But hopefully now we’ve got that game out the way and we can go on hopefully to achieve something really good.

“You can have good players on the pitch and on paper, we’ve probably got one of the best and that’s not me being arrogant or anything, it’s just the truth.

“You look around at this quality all around the pitch, even coming off the bench, but you do need a little bit of luck in tournament football.”