Young striker Jon Walters first joined Hull City on loan in February 2003 as Peter Taylor sought to revive the Tigers’ fading prospects of promotion in his first season in charge. City had just failed to win seven consecutive games when Walters signed and the teenager’s influence was instant – he opened the scoring after 20 minutes then struck again in the second half as City mullered Carlisle 5-1. Further goals followed in a defeat at Rushden & Diamonds and wins against Bournemouth and Kidderminster Harriers and by the end of the season Walters had announced himself as a hot property amongst ambitious clubs in lower leagues.
In 2003/04 loan spells at League Division 2 sides Crewe Alexandra and Barnsley yielded limited results so Walters had a point to prove in February 2004 when he again joined Hull City, this time on permanent contract in return for a £50,000 fee. Still a young man, Walters’ game at City was affected by health issues suffered by his new-born daughter. For a season and a half he was mostly used as impact substitute, although that impact was rarely seen as he went nearly ten months without scoring between his second debut against York in February 2004, when he came off the bench to score a winner, and an November 2004 FA Cup tie against Morecambe when he performed the same feat. A third and final goal of his second spell with the Tigers came a week later at Swindon in a 4-2 defeat, and even a month’s loan spell at Scunthorpe couldn’t rouse his goalscoring talent. He left the Tigers in the 2005 close season.
Jonathan Ronald “Jon” Walters was born in Moreton on the Wirral Peninsula and raised by his father after his mother died when he was young. Although a slow developer in physical terms, Walters’ football talent was clear and he played for Merseyside Boys ahead of signing for Blackburn Rovers in 1998. Prolific in the youth and reserves teams, Walters played in the Blackburn squad that finished runners-up to Arsenal in the 2001 FA Youth Cup and his talents looked set to propel him into the first team at Ewood Park when a prank-gone-wrong led to him being accused of theft and his contract was terminated. Walters was quickly snapped up by local rivals Bolton Wanderers who gave him his Premier League debut in August 2002 and after six first team appearances for the Trotters Walters was given his loan move to Hull City. Walters did not make any further appearances for Bolton in 2003/04 season ahead of his loan moves to Crewe and Barnsley and his transfer to Hull City.
Walters’ career was seemingly in decline when he left Hull City in August 2005 and joined League 2 side Wrexham. However the Welsh side persisted with Walters at centre forward for the opening weeks of the 2005/06 season and he rewarded manager Denis Smith with four goals in seven games during the Autumn months. Adding only one more goal in the rest of the season, Wrexham’s patience ran dry and Walters joined local rivals Chester in August 2006. At the Deva Stadium Walters finally found his form again, scoring ten goals in half a season before transferring Championship side Ipswich Town in January 2007. For the next three and a half years Walters served the Suffolk side with consistency not previously seen in his young career and forged a reputation as one of the Championship’s most effective support forwards. He scored his first career hattrick in November 2007 against Bristol City and by August 2010 Walters had scored 32 times in 146 appearances for Ipswich Town when a £2.75 million fee allowed Premier League side Stoke City to lure him back to the North West. After a slow start Walters was again amongst the goals in the early months of 2011 and he played a major part in the Potters’ FA Cup run that took them to the Final – Jon scored twice against Cardiff in the Third Round, once against Brighton in the Fifth Round then twice in the semi-final against his former side Bolton, who were beaten 5-0. Walters played all 90 minutes of the Wembley final that the Manchester City won 1-0.
Walters served Stoke City for six further seasons in the Premier League and cemented his reputation as a reliable forward whose bustling style created goals for himself and others, and he was a regular Player of the Season winner at the Britannia Stadium. In 2011/12 season he scored twice in the Europa League against Hajduk Split and Besiktas, and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Liverpool, a notable feat for a boyhood Everton fan. In January 2015 he struck his second career hattrick in a 3-1 Premier League win against Queens Park Rangers and by July 2017 Walters had scored 62 times for Stoke City in 271 senior appearances. He joined Premier League rivals Burnley in July 2017 but in two seasons Jon managed only six appearances for the Clarets as an achilles injury hampered his game time. A brief loan spell at Ipswich in September 2018 that yielded three appearances drew an end to his professional career and he hung up his boots in 2019 having made a total of 573 appearances and scored 117 goals – fulfilling the immense promise he showed at Hull City in that first foray into regular first team football in 2003.
After retiring in March 2019 Walters took on media punditry work.
Walters’ mother was of Irish descent and he declared his allegiance to Ireland in October 2003 when he scored twice in his Under-21s debut against Switzerland. After a Ireland B appearance against Scotland in 2007, it wasn’t until Jon was established as a Premier League player that Ireland senior team manager Giovanni Trapattoni handed him his senior debut in November 2010 against Norway. He went on to score 14 goals in 54 caps between that 2010 debut and his final game in September 2018 against Wales in the Nations League. His highlight came in November 2015 when he scored twice against Bosnia and Herzogovina that saw Ireland secure a play-off win and qualify for the Euro 2016 Finals. At the Finals Walters started against Sweden, the first of three group stage games, then came on as subsititute in the knockout round of 16 as Ireland lost narrowly to the hosts and eventual finalists France.
Date/Place of Birth: 20 September 1983, Moreton
Hull City First Game: 1 March 2003, Carlisle United A (League Division 3), 19 years, 162 days old
Hull City Final Game: 23 April 2005, Walsall A (League One), 21 years, 215 days old
Blackburn Rovers (1998-2001), Bolton Wanderers (2001-2004), Hull City (2003, loan), Crewe Alexandra (2003, loan), Barnsley (2003-2004, loan), Hull City (2004-2005), Scunthorpe United (2005, loan), Wrexham (2005-2006), Chester City (2006-2007), Ipswich Town (2007-2010), Stoke City (2010-2017), Burnley (2017-2019), Ipswich Town (2018, loan)
Hull City Record
Career: 52 apps, 8 goalsJon Walters
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