Before the Great Britain squad for the European Championships was named, you would be forgiven for already pencilling one name in. When someone has kicked a goal every time they’ve pulled on the guernsey for the national side, that speaks volumes.
Now with 30 goals in just 12 appearances since making his debut at the 2016 European Championships, Andy Walkden is ready for another crack not only at the European title but for another visit to Melbourne for the International Cup in 2020.
“To be the leading goalkicker for my country is a really great feeling and honour and I’m keen to stay there at the top for as long as possible,” said Walkden. “That’s what drives me to keep playing and keep improving, I want to stay at the top.
“I’m also driven by the desire to improve on Great Britain’s 6th place finish at the 2017 International Cup, with the dream of playing and scoring a goal on the holy grail of footy, the MCG.”
“IC17 was a lot of fun, we went with a great bunch of blokes and it was so fun to be around and inundated in a footy culture. Melbourne’s love for footy is really infectious and getting to go to games with your best mates is something special.”
After getting into Australian football at the University of Birmingham, Walkden slowly found his way into the GB setup and kicked four goals in his side’s victory over Ireland in the 2016 European Championship Grand Final.
“I signed up for Aussie rules because it looked fun,” said Walkden. “Both me and [fellow GB star] Jack Coughlan had both heard bits about it.
“We went to the first training session and that was it, we were hooked ever since.
“I play half-forward or full-forward, but I probably enjoy half-forward most as it allows me to get around the ball a bit more.”
Now playing his club football for both the Manchester Mosquitoes and North London Lions, Walkden played a pivotal role in the Mozzies’ premiership season.
“I kicked a fair few goals,” he admitted, which included 15 in the first game against Huddersfield. He also kicked three in the Grand Final as the Mozzies won their sixth straight CNE Grand Final.
With the European Championship less than two months away, Walkden says the current Bulldogs squad is looking, in his words, “really promising.”
“There are a fair few lads returning from last time eager to improve, but that has been balanced out really well with a load of new faces who are really keen to play for their country.
“Playing for both Great Britain and the Mozzies has brought around a whole load of amazing times and funny stories and amazing memories. The best thing is being around your mates, playing hard for each other and then having a laugh and a few beers afterwards.”