‘I’m playing the best football of my career’ – Colchester United keeper Sam Walker on his move from Chelsea
- Credit: Archant
Sam Walker, fresh from signing a permanent contract, believes that he is playing the “best football” of his career.
The highly-rated Walker, who completed his move from Chelsea to Colchester United on Monday, is looking to continue his progress as a top keeper over the next 18 months.
The 22-year-old custodian has yet to miss a game for the U’s this season, after his return to the club on a second loan spell last summer, and he will be hoping to preserve that unblemished record during the second half of this campaign.
“It was nice to get everything done and dusted, with the move,” explained Walker last night.
“I felt it was the natural progression for me, to sign for Colchester United. I’ve enjoyed it here, and it was a matter of tying up a few loose ends.
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“Being at Chelsea, it was obviously very difficult for me to break into the team, but I have no regrets about my time at Stamford Bridge.
“I came there as a 16-year-old, following a year as a schoolboy at Millwall. Before that, I was just playing Sunday League football.
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“I made some good friends at Chelsea, and have some great memories, and I reckon it was the best place for me to learn, as a young keeper, to develop my techniques.
“That set me up. I’ve had a few loans since, but now is the right time for me to settle at Colchester. In my heart and my head, it’s the right move for me.”
Having rattled up 19 games during an initial loan spell with the U’s, during the second half of last season, Walker has already totalled 29 games this term, in a very different environment.
“The team was struggling a little last season. We had a fight to stave off relegation, and it ended up being a real scrap,” continued Walker.
“But it’s been different this season. We had a depleted squad early on, which affected us, but we are on the up now. We’ve just broken into the top half of the table, and now we are targeting the top 10.
“Personally, I believe that my game has been coming on leaps and bounds, over the last few months.
“I definitely feel like I am playing the best football of my career.
“Obviously the recent game at MK Dons (man-of-the-match performance in a 0-0 draw on New Year’s Day) really stands out. I made a few saves and it was just one those days when everything came right.
“But I think we have a really strong back five at the moment, and that helps.”
Outside the top six, the U’s have one of the best defensive records, with 34 goals conceded in 26 games.
In addition to the impressive Walker, centre-halves Tom Eastman and Magnus Okuonghae have been models of consistency in the heart of defence, flanked by skipper Brian Wilson and Everton loanee Luke Garbutt in the full-back positions.
Walker also paid tribute to manager Joe Dunne, and goalkeeping coach Ademola ‘George’ Bankole.
“The gaffer (Dunne) was a huge factor in me agreeing to sign. It was he who gave me my chance, in January of last year,” added Walker.
“And I’ve had a lot of good conversations with George (Bankole). I have a lot of respect for him, and he was also a big reason for me signing.”
The U’s next game is at home to Shrewsbury next Tuesday.