Liam Walker profile
FootyOn provide a Liam Walker profile, ahead of the Gibraltar international star returning to English football and signing for League Two outfit Notts County.
The 29-year-old midfield playmaker is somewhat of an unknown quantity in England, having plied his trade in his homeland for the past two seasons to help raise the British oversees territory’s profile after they only gained UEFA and then FIFA membership a few years ago.
Walker is arguably the most high-profile player to have come out of Gibraltar, but what do you know about him?
Read on to find out more in our dedicated Liam Walker profile…
— Notts County FC (@Official_NCFC) July 25, 2017
Career to date
Walker started out playing senior football in the Spanish lower leagues for the likes of Algeciras, Atletico Zabal, Linense, Los Barrios and San Roque from 2006-2010, but previously had trials with English giants Manchester United, Everton and Aston Villa.
It was his spell with San Roque, based just north of Gibraltar in the Cadiz province of Andalusia, that earned him a move to England after finishing the 2011/12 campaign as the club’s top scorer and Player of the Season.
Portsmouth came calling, after Walker inspired a Gibraltar XI to a 4-0 win over the League One side in pre-season.
Under then-Pompey boss Michael Appleton, he made 28 appearances in all competitions, scoring twice and setting up three.
Relive his best Portsmouth moments below:
Walker left at the end of the 2012/13 season after stating his desire to sign for a Greek club but, when that and a trial with Dundee United fell through, he returned to San Roque briefly.
A move to Israeli top-flight team Bnei Yehuda followed in 2013/14, before he returned to Gibraltar and played for once of their clubs for the first time.
Lincoln Red Imps, the territory’s most successful outfit, gained his signature and he won two Gibraltarian Premier Division titles with them, as well as helping them to a famous home victory over Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers.
Walker later transferred to title rivals Europa FC last season, and inspired them a domestic treble, to thus end Lincoln’s run of 14 consecutive league trophies.
Now, he returns to England with Notts County (7/2 for promotion with BetVictor), for a new chapter in his career and during his peak years.
Walker is somewhat of a trailblazer for Gibraltarian footballers, being the first born and raised on the tiny territory since ex-Fulham keeper Tony Macedo in the 1950s and 60s to ply his trade in the English Football League.
Others such as Scott Wiseman, Jake Gosling and former Man Utd player Danny Higginbotham have done so too, but were brought up in England and qualified for Gibraltar through family heritage.
Walker’s only season in England to date with Portsmouth ended in relegation from League One, but he impressed enough to be considered for a new deal for the following year.
He later won Gibraltar Premier League titles with two teams in successive seasons, as mentioned above, as well as lifting their domestic Rock Cup.
But his best moments undoubtedly have come in UEFA and FIFA events for club and country in Gibraltar.
The midfielder played in Team 54’s first-ever official match against Slovakia, and helped them to a draw 0-0.
Walker gained more attention later in a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier against world champions Germany, where a spectacular long-ranged effort almost beat Manuel Neuer.
He finally did find the net in 2018 World Cup qualifying against Greece, which was their first in a competitive FIFA fixture, and his wondergoal earned him to be named FIFA Player of the Day.
You can see his strike below:
In terms of memorable club moments, Walker was always the key man for Lincoln Red Imps and Europa FC, and helped both to remarkable first leg Champions League qualifying wins over Celtic and Welsh champions The New Saints respectively – scoring against the latter.
Walker is a left-footed, diminutive midfield playmaker, who holds the ball well close to his feet and creates many chances.
He assisted a whopping 15 in just 35 games across all competitions last season for Europa FC, and is a scorer too having netted 16.
Playing mainly on the right-hand side of midfield last term, he is also adept at operating centrally – where he’s mostly used for Gibraltar – as well as on the left, as a support striker or even as a deep-lying playmaker.
As footage of him proves, Walker can score goals from long-range, as well as after mazy runs, while he is also a set-piece specialist.
Watch him test out Germany keeper Neuer:
Notts County have picked up a multi-talented versatile player, who could turn out to be a bargain as they aim for promotion this term.
With the likes of high-profile 30-something teammates Shola Ameobi, Alan Smith, Jon Stead, Jonathan Forte and Richard Duffy, he’ll certainly have quality and experience around him.
The manager’s thoughts
Notts County’s manager happens to be none other than former Premier League star Kevin Nolan, who operated in a similar role to Walker.
Nolan, now 35, is still registered as a player, but will no doubt trust the younger legs of Walker for the 2017/18 campaign due to having a depleted midfield as it is.
After impressing again in a trial against city rivals Nottingham Forest, and missing out on signing for League One team Southend United, Nolan said on Walker: “Liam did well again and we will have a chat with him over the next 24-48 hours.
“We will see where is head is at and see if something can be done. It’s another midfielder who can come in and push the lads who were here already.
“I will talk to Thommo (Richard Thomas, assistant manager) and Norm (Mark Crossley, first-team coach) as we’ve all been impressed with what we’ve seen. Then we will speak to Liam and his dad who has been over with him.”
Any Notts County connections?
Walker may be a fairly unfamiliar face to English fans and players, but not to current Magpies defender Carl Dickinson, who played briefly with him at Portsmouth in 2012/13.
They shared the field twice, in losses against Brentford and Bury in December, before Dickinson’s loan spell ended in January.
Walker has also faced Notts County once before, when he came off the bench against them in an FA Cup first round when 2-0 down, but was unable to inspire them to a result.
Keeper Kevin Pilkington was also an unused sub for the Magpies in that game, and until recently was still on their books as a player-coach.
As for familiar faces in League Two, his Gibraltar international teammate Wiseman has just dropped down from League One to sign for Chesterfield, who incidentally take on Notts County on August 12 in the second league fixture of the season.
Meanwhile, another English-born former Gibraltar defender David Artell is now manager of Crewe Alexandra in the same division, and Walker could come up against them first on October 17.
Walker could also face Everton Under-23 in the Football League Trophy Group stage on August 28, over a decade after having a trial with them.
We’re scraping the barrel a bit on this one, but newly-promoted Lincoln City are opponents on September 23, just a couple season after playing for namesakes Lincoln Red Imps!
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