Josh Walker’s Indian summer

David Beckham set the trend for English footballers moving abroad as a trailblazer for growing the game – and now another former England captain wants to do the same in India.

Midfielder Josh Walker captained the Three Lions at Under-16 and U17 level before skippering the side at the 2009 U20 World Cup in Egypt.

After progressing through the academy at Middlesbrough, Walker went on to play for Watford, Scunthorpe United and most recently Gateshead before sealing his move to Bengaluru, who are based in Bangalore.

“My friend John Johnson, who was at Boro with me, has been out there playing for them, so I’ve been keeping in touch with him and seen how well he has been getting on out there. He asked me earlier this year if it would be something I’d be interested in,” Walker told TheFA.com.

“It was just a quick chat about it, but then towards the end of last season the manager Ashley Westwood rang me to see if I was interested.

“I thought there and then that it was time to give something else a go, and it really excited me and it is an opportunity to relish.”

Josh Walker in action for England U20s

Josh Walker in action for England U20s

As Walker says, he is the latest addition to an ever-growing English contingent at the reigning champions of India. As well as his close friend Johnson, former Crewe Alexander and Sheffield Wednesday defender Westwood is the man in charge – and Walker says they have a shared goal.

“I’m joining the champions, and I want to help them win even more things. I want to be a success there.

“Cricket is obviously the No1 sport out there, but football has become more popular and hopefully I can help its growth continue and get even more people watching and playing it.”

During his time at Middlesbrough, the Newcastle-born 25-year-old enjoyed a loan spell at Aberdeen, tasting European football in the UEFA Cup – scoring a memorable free-kick against Bayern Munich. Since then he has played for a number of clubs at all levels of the game in England – and those experiences have primed him for his time in the subcontinent.

“I haven’t been out there yet – but I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m looking forward to it.

“I did have a couple of games in the UEFA Cup earlier in my career, and obviously my experience of playing for England, puts me in good stead. That World Cup in Egypt was boiling, and it is going to be similar conditions in India, so all that experience helps.”

“Football has become more popular and hopefully I can help its growth continue”

Josh Walker

He continued: “There is going to be difficulties. I have a young daughter who is only two, so it will obviously be hard moving so far away – but that is one of the reasons I am doing it. I want to provide a good life for her.”

At a time when young footballers are finding it harder and harder to stay in the game, Walker says he believes more should look abroad to continue their careers – although he admits it is a big step to take for one so young.

“I’m telling my family that I’m not moving away to live, I’m going away to work. It’s like people that go away to work off-shore.

“It’s getting difficult for people all around the country to find work, and that includes footballers. Going abroad will be a big challenge, but it’s something that I want to make a success of and I think more should look to do it.

“It’s going to be a great challenge and experience, but I’m ready for it and determined to make it a success.”

Walker will be jetting out to India next week to meet his new team-mates before the I-League season starts in September.