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Don’t worry Kyle Walker-Peters, that WASN’T your Jerome Boateng moment

Ousmane Dembele dished out a painful lesson but those five seconds won't come to define the young Spurs right-back

You had to feel for the lad.

Thrust into a ‘do-or-die’ fixture at one of the most iconic, most cavernous, most ravenous stadiums in world football, Kyle Walker-Peters would have been inhuman not to feel nervous before kick-off.

Deputising for the injured Serge Aurier, the 21-year-old would have been thinking about the threat of left-sided forward Philippe Coutinho as he laced up his boots in the dressing room.

Don’t let him cut in on his right and shoot from 20 yards. Watch the ball, not his feet. Listen to Toby, Jan and Hugo.

A night he’ll never forget

Getty - Contributor
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A night he’ll never forget

However, it was Ousmane Dembele, not Coutinho, who inflicted a brutal lesson upon Walker-Peters in just the seventh minute.

A Christian Eriksen free-kick was cleared by the first defender and the ball floated towards the inexperienced Spurs defender.

Dembele had the run on Walker-Peters and mugged him just shy of the halfway line.

The Frenchman dribbled downfield as a two-on-two situation unfolded.

In a frightening display of pace, Dembele suddenly knocked the ball 15 yards ahead of him and skinned Walker-Peters in the manner of an overpowered PlayStation blur.

Some goal, to be fair

Reuters
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Some goal, to be fair

A second later, Dembele wheeled away in celebration while Walker-Peters lay flat on his back, head in his hands, engulfed in the swell of the Camp Nou.

Every footballer dreams of playing a European game away to Barcelona — but such a moment would test any player’s character, let alone a 21-year-old making their Champions League debut.

Understandably, he was rattled.

Soon after he was booked for a bad challenge on Coutinho and there were worries the occasion would chew him up and spit him out.

A 100,000-seater stadium can be a lonely place

Reuters
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A 100,000-seater stadium can be a lonely place

Walker-Peters endured, admirably.

He weathered the storm, and most importantly, refused to hide.

He could have shied away from supporting attacks with overlaps, for fear of being caught out and harming his reputation further.

But damage control was not on his mind, Mauricio Pochettino’s instructions were — get up the pitch, use the width, deliver crosses.

He defended well in the second half before he was sacrificed in favour of Erik Lamela as Spurs pushed for an equaliser.

Pochettino welcomed Walker-Peters with a fatherly embrace.

You did good kid, don’t worry about it.

Good effort, all things considered

Reuters
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Good effort, all things considered

While Dembele’s roasting will live long in the memory, it will not come to define Walker-Peters, it will not be his Jerome Boateng moment.

You know what I’m referring to; Barcelona v Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou in 2015.

A swish of Lionel Messi’s hips put Boateng on his arse in comical fashion.

Memes, GIFs, millions of views.

Even a player of Boateng’s standing, with his reinforced trophy cabinet that includes a World Cup winners medal, has not fully overcome such a moment.

That brief humiliation is a permanent asterisk on a career most would enviable of in the extreme.

soccer messi GIF

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Walker-Peters has time on his side — that’s the difference.

Now he has survived a grilling at the Camp Nou, few other challenges will compare.

A bit of humility never hurt and he should use the experience to give him a sense of fearlessness which is so often beneficial to a young player’s development.

His post-game tweet is the exact sentiment he should be channelling and I was hugely relieved to see the most-liked reply was one of support from a Spurs fan.

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