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Gareth Southgate pays tribute to Kyle Walker after landmark England achievement

Gareth Southgate has paid tribute to Kyle Walker after he surpassed World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst’s on England appearances.

Southgate revealed they did a pre-match presentation for Walker before his 50th cap against Belgium which puts him one ahead of 1966 hat-trick hero Hurst.

They normally get an England legend into the dressing room to mark 50 caps but socially distancing made that impossible but Southgate was still keen to mark the achievement.

Manchester City defender Walker, 30, has made a remarkable comeback because he was frozen out for a year, complained about having to play in central defence but is now back in favour in that position.

England boss Southgate said: “We gave him a presentation before the game. I think he goes level with Phil Neal, which obviously I was the only one in the room who knew. And above Sir Geoff Hurst, which is incredible.

“To spend nine, ten years playing for your country, you go through a huge range of experiences and he has but he is a man who organises well, who talks across the line.

“His physical attributes mean that in a game like Belgium, where speed is so important, he was able to get across on the cover where a couple of times other players had been beaten and he was there in great covering positions.

“But also then his acceleration with the ball to get out of trouble and because he’s comfortable, having played full-back, to bring the ball [out].

“A couple of times we drove forward and we wanted that from the outside centre-backs, when we were in possession, that they were able to bring the ball higher up the pitch and combine. So I thought he had an excellent performance.”

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