England’s South Yorkshire defence holds strong in opening games
Three players from South Yorkshire have played an instrumental role in keeping England’s water-tight defence so far at the World Cup in Qatar.
Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire and John Stones, born in South Yorkshire, make up three of England’s back four that have only conceded two goals in four games.
England progressed through the group stages comfortably, achieving seven points from their opening three games, beating Iran 6-2 and a 0-0 draw with the USA.
Kyle Walker missed out on the first two games through injury however he was reinstated to his right back position for England’s last group game against Wales where England beat their neighbours 3-0.
Maguire and Stones have started every game at the tournament so far, keeping three clean sheets.
The pair have formed a formidable partnership for England, playing 33 times together including in England’s two recent major tournament campaigns in 2018 and 2021.
The only two goals conceded came in the opening match against Iran thanks to a Mehdi Taremi brace.
Walker, 32, was born in Sheffield, attending Porter Croft Infant and High Storrs secondary school. Walker spent his youth playing for Sheffield United and made five senior appearances before he signed for Tottenham.
Tottenham loaned Walker back to The Blades where he made a further 26 appearances.
Maguire, 29, follows a fairly similar early career. The Mosborough defender spent the beginning of his football life in the Sheffield United academy. Maguire made his debut for The Blades as a half time substitute versus Cardiff City in April 2011.
Maguire made 166 appearances for Sheffield United scoring nine goals before earning a transfer to Hull City in 2014.
Stones, 28, was brought up in Penistone. He played for Penistone Church FC before joining Barnsley’s academy system and made his debut for the Tykes when he was 17.
The three Yorkshiremen may have their work cut out for them to keep out France’s world class forward Kylian Mbappe in the quarter final of the World Cup on 17 December.
Mbappe and his strike partner, formal Arsenal man, Olivier Giroud, have scored eight goals in the three games they have featured in three games they have played together in the tournament, Mbappe failing to make an impact in Les Blues’ loss to Tunisia.