bwfc.co.uk's ongoing summer series continues as we look at a former Wanderer whose last England cap came against the Three Lions' Euro 2016 round-of-16 opponents, Iceland
As England prepare to take on Iceland in the Euro 2016 round-of-16 meeting this evening, bwfc.co.uk profile a former Wanderer who represented the Three Lions at two European Championships and won his final international cap the last time the two nations clashed back in 2004.
4 CAPS 0 GOALS
European Championships: 2 (EURO 1996 AND EURO 2004)
Best Stage Reached: SEMI-FINALS
Tournament Appearances: 0
Tournament Goals: 0
Winning just four international caps over the space of eight years under three different England managers, Ian Walker was unfortunate to see the majority of his international career coincide with Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman at his peak.
Coming through the ranks at the Gunners’ fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Walker broke into the Spurs first team during the early-nineties under his future international manager, Terry Venables.
First-choice for Tottenham come the start of the inaugural Premiership season in 1992/93, he continued to impress for the club as he battled with Erik Thorstvedt for a starting berth in goal.
Handed the number one jersey at the start of the 1995/96 season, Walker was an ever-present for Tottenham as they narrowly missed out on a European spot.
His performances at club-level did not go unnoticed as he was handed an England debut by Venables against Hungary in May 1996.
Awarded his second cap against China the following week, Walker impressed enough to be included in Venables’ squad for Euro 1996 as England hosted the European Championships.
Third-choice behind Seaman and Blackburn Rovers shot-stopper Tim Flowers, he watched on from the sidelines as an unused squad member as the hosts opened the tournament against Switzerland at Wembley Stadium.
Fighting out a 1-1 draw as Alan Shearer’s opener was cancelled out by a late Kubilay Turkyilmaz penalty, the Three Lions would eventually go on to reach the semi-finals before being knocked out on penalties to Germany, beating Scotland, the Netherlands and Spain along the way.
Walker was handed his first start for England and a maiden competitive appearance the following year under Venables’ successor, Glenn Hoddle.
However, it proved to be a night to forget for the goalkeeper as the Three Lions fell to a 1-0 defeat against Italy at Wembley in a vital 1998 World Cup qualifier, with Walker at fault for Gianfranco Zola’s winner.
The defeat proved to be England’s only loss of the campaign as they qualified for the finals in France, but Walker would miss out on a World Cup place with Nigel Martyn named in the squad alongside Seaman and Flowers.
Remaining out of favour under Kevin Keegan, the goalkeeper would have to wait over seven years to win his next international cap.
Now on the books of Leicester City having joined the Foxes at the start of the 2001/02 season, relegation to Division One would cost him a place at the 2002 World Cup with David James the latest goalkeeper to leapfrog him in the international pecking order.
However, with Seaman’s international career coming to an end following the tournament, he was handed an international recall by Sven-Goran Eriksson in May 2003 against South Africa after impressing as Leicester secured an immediate return to the top-flight.
Maintaining his place in the England squad despite Leicester suffering relegation to the Championship in 2003/04, Walker was named in his second European Championships squad by Eriksson, again serving as third-choice – this time to James and Paul Robinson.
Following the squad’s announcement, the goalkeeper won his first international cap since 1997 as England concluded their Euro 2004 preparations with a 6-1 win over Iceland for what would be his fourth and final international appearance.
The Three Lions would eventually suffer a quarter-final exit on penalties to hosts Portugal, having beaten Switzerland and Croatia following an opening defeat to France.
After one final season with Leicester following the tournament, Walker moved to Bolton Wanderers to serve as Jussi Jaaskelainain’s deputy at the start of the 2005/06 season, though he would never make a league appearance during his time at the Reebok Stadium.
However, he would play eight times for the Whites in cup competitions, including Bolton’s first ever European match against Lokomotiv Plovdiv, before being released at the end of the 2007/08 season as his 19-year playing career came to an end.
Briefly embarking on a managerial career with Conference South Side Bishop’s Stortford in 2011, Walker now works in China as Shanghai East Asia’s goalkeeping coach under his former England manager Eriksson, having previously held the same position at Shanghai Shenhua alongside former Wanderers team-mate Nicolas Anelka.
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