Walters: It's all about attitude
HE doesn’t give much away, Jonathon Walters. Selfcontained and with just the right amount of confidence, he’s had to fight all his career for recognition.
He shares the trait with half of Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad and sees potential benefits for Ireland in the fact that so many have risen from lower league football to where they are now. For Walters, it’s all about attitude.
“A lot of the lads (who have) been down there and done that would say the same. That’s what managers are looking for… I’ve seen many young academy players who have all the talent and could be world beaters but they don’t have the attitude,” said Walters. “Ability counts but the top players in the world are the ones who work the hardest for the team. A lot of games are won or lost in the last 10 minutes of the game and that’s when attitude counts.”
“We’re blessed to be where we are as players. We’ve been down the leagues and seen the other side of it. A lot of my friends in the game had to go off and get jobs.” Walters has good reason for keeping his comments on the straight and narrow in the weeks before Trapattoni will make key decisions about Euro 2012.
He likes what Walters brings to his squad and for obvious reasons. Adaptability is the key to his game and it will not have escaped Trap’s attention that Robbie Keane has had some of his best moments for Ireland down through the years while paired with a big man. Can he do that job?
“Yes I can,” said Walters without hesitation. “We played together in Estonia and played well. Over the years I’ve played with all sorts of different strikers and I adapt to any player.”
“Each role in each game brings different experiences. In the Premier League, sometimes you’re playing against teams with three men in midfield and you have their dangerman spreading it around.” “I might be the one to sit on him for the whole game but any job I get to do I try to do with the best of my ability.”
“I find myself moving around positions four or five times minimum in every game. “Some players might find that difficult but I’m comfortable with it.” “I started as a central midfielder for the last few games. I didn’t even start the game as a striker. But you still have to make the runs and try to get the goals.”
Walters has taken some stick from Stoke fans of late, largely because he was bought as a striker but hasn’t been scoring very many goals. He shrugs it off and expresses complete confidence in Tony Pulis’s ability to see his value in real terms. “I know what I do and the manager knows what I do. I’ve a thick skin and I don’t pay any attention to that kind of thing.” Walters has played a lot of games this season but he rejects any suggestion that he is tired and below par as a result.
“I’m feeling good. People have been banging on about me being tired and needing a rest,” he says with a roll of his eyes. “We’re measured by pro zone all year around. Early on we played three game weeks in Europe. It was a busy time and sure it’s been a long season but I’m fine.”
Walters will use the week in Dublin to let Trapattoni know that he has suffered no ill effects from a tough Premier League and Europa Cup season. “We have a week here in Dublin and that’s a chance to put a marker down. Everyone will be doing the same. If the chance comes, I’ve got to be ready to take it.”