HONEST Hartlepool United midfielder Simon Walton admits his football career hasn’t quite panned out the way he thought it would.
But that won’t stop the 26-year-old from helping teenager Bradley Walker fulfill his potential at Pools.
Indeed, Walton is well placed to help guide his midfield colleague through the early stages of his fledgling career, which has already seen the 17-year-old called up to an England Under-18 training camp twice this season.
Leeds-born Walton, who has recently been restored to the centre of Pools’ midfield alongside Walker, also made his professional debut at just 17 when he featured for hometown club Leeds United in a game against Derby County back in 2004.
His potential and talent saw him leave Leeds two years later to move to Charlton Athletic in 2006 in a £500,000 deal before later joining Queens Park Rangers.
Walton, who stands at 6ft 1”, had loan spells at Hull City before quitting Loftus Road and signing for Plymouth in the summer of 2008 before eventually ending up at Victoria Park.
The midfielder admitted his career hasn’t hit the heights it once promised but has tipped Billingham-born Walker to have a successful career, as long as he keeps grounded and keeps listening and learning to his coaches and team-mates.
“I love Brad to bits”, said Walton who signed for Pools in the summer of 2012 after leaving Plymouth.
“As a kid and as a player I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“Against Fleetwood Town, the gaffer asked us to be men and Brad certainly has got that in his locker.
“The ability and the talent that he has got, I’m not sure even he realises it.
“But as long as he keeps going along as he is and keeps grounded and is willing to come and ask for advice then I am more than willing to help him along.
“I have been in his situation as a young kid and my career didn’t quite pan out as I would have liked it, so I am there to help him along and he helps us along at times too.”
Walker signed his first professional contract in the summer after impressing in pre-season, including the trip to Holland, and started the season in the Pools first team in the 3-0 defeat at Rochdale.
Such has been the 17-year-old’s rapid progress since that opening day of the season that he recently completed his second stint at an England U18 training camp, where he again impressed coach Neil Dewsnip.
Walker’s gaffer at Pools, Colin Cooper, has also been impressed with the attitude and performances of the teenage midfielder and has already tipped him to win his first England youth cap in the not-to-distant future.