Kyle Walker says the chance to “make history” with Manchester City is enough motivation to relieve the pain of their Champions League exit when they come face-to-face with Tottenham for the second time in four days on Saturday.
Walker told Sky Sports he has struggled to sleep since seeing City’s quadruple hopes go up in flames when a last-minute winner in their Champions League quarter-final, against Spurs, was ruled out by VAR on Wednesday night.
In a cruel twist of fate, he and his team-mates have been tasked with getting that result out of their system by playing the north London club again on Saturday, but despite a one-of-a-kind quadruple being off the cards, there is still the chance for City to make history this season, and that is providing ample motivation for the defender.
Walker said: “It’s how far this club has come – it’s a great credit to us as players, what we can achieve, and being in all competitions until Wednesday. It’s tough – the cups are knock-out games. With the Premier League, you can afford to lose a couple here and there but it’s a tough competition, a cup competition.
“We want to create history. Doing what we did and breaking the records last year was fantastic, a pat on the back for us, but this year was about retaining our title, and walking out at the end of the season having won back-to-back titles which I don’t think anyone has done for nine years now.
“It’s going to be very tough. There’s some tough games coming up, but football is crazy and anything can happen. We’ll be there and fight until the end.
“We have to be ready, fully focused. We owe it to ourselves and to the fans. We need to turn up on Saturday, get it out of the way and then turn up on Wednesday for another big derby [away to Manchester United].”
VAR has endured its fair share of criticism for its implementation in European and domestic cup competitions this season, but few teams can have been more scarred by the video referee than City after having their injury-time winner overturned – rightfully – to deny them only a second Champions League semi-final spot in their history.
But Walker admitted he could not pretend to feel bitter about the new technology’s influence, despite the fact Raheem Sterling’s last-gasp goal would have stood without it.
He said: “It’s football. It was the right decision, Kun was offside and VAR went against us. It’s not hard to admit it, it’s the facts, it’s the truth. I would want the decision to be given if it were the other way round.
“If I sit here and say I don’t agree with VAR, I’d be lying. Last season we could’ve got a goal in the quarters if VAR had been there, but you look at the Swansea game this season and we got to the semi-final and we probably got away with one without VAR.
“I’ve played a lot of games in my career – against Fulham was my 400th. I’ve been unfortunate to be a losing semi-finalist and losing finalist with my other clubs so I’ve had a lot of disappointment, but in football it’s great that there’s another game around the corner, and if we go out here and get the victory, it’s kind of all forgotten about ahead of the big derby.
“I’ve been at Sheffield United, QPR, Aston Villa and Tottenham, and I’ve never really experienced a dressing room like this. When we lose, it hurts, it really does. There’s born winners in there – in the time I’ve been here, we’ve had a lot of success.
“I don’t want to sound big-headed, but it’s not normal for us, we don’t tend to lose that many games. It’s a big, big kick in the teeth. But we have the likes of David Silva, Kun, Kevin, Fernandinho who get us up, get us together, and it’s another important game against Tottenham.”