Kyle Walker has revealed his delight and pride at playing alongside fellow Yorkshiremen Harry Maguire and John Stones in the heart of England’s defence.
The trio have played a vital role in the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup semi-finals, where they face a tough clash against Croatia on Wednesday.
England’s solidity at the back, boosted by the presence of the impressive Jordan Pickford in goal, has been a welcome surprise for most fans after a run of torrid campaigns at major tournaments.
And Walker is proud to serve his country alongside two of his fellow Tykes.
The Manchester City man is particularly pleased to see Maguire starring on the international stage, after he scored his first international goal in Saturday’s 2-0 quarter-final victory over Sweden.
Both players came through the ranks at Sheffield United and, speaking to talkSPORT’s England correspondent Nigel Adderley on Monday, Walker said: “Obviously with H, I’ve seen him growing up.
“I feel like a proud dad sometimes when he puts the shirt on and does what he’s doing.
“To get a goal has capped off his tournament so far because I think he’s been excellent.
“Coming into a World Cup situation like this and not having many caps, it shows his maturity on the field.”
Walker’s also hailed club and country team-mate Stones, having enjoyed a brilliant year together after Man City’s Premier League title victory in May.
“I’ve played with John for a year now and for a number of years with England and he can be whatever he wants to be.
“On the ball he is second to none and he’s getting big and he’s commanding a lot more to people around him.”
It’s not just Walker’s and Maguire’s performances on the pitch that have got fans singing their praises – after the England men started an internet meme frenzy after the win over Sweden.
After scoring his first England goal, Leicester City star Maguire was pictured chatting to fiancée Fern Hawkins after the game, and Walker poked fun at the 6ft 3in forward with a hilarious caption on Twitter.
Maguire later upped the game with his own response, which sent social media into meltdown.
It sparked thousands of responses from fans and, asked about the meme, Walker told talkSPORT: “I tried to get him a few more followers!
“He was a bit low on the followers so I wanted people to know him outside of Sheffield.
“We’ve had a bit of a laugh with it.”
Tune into talkSPORT for LIVE commentary of England v Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals: Wednesday July 11 – KICK OFF 7PM BST