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Bobby Walker

Personal information
Full nameRobert Walker
Date of birth10 January 1879
Place of birthEdinburgh, Scotland
Date of death28 August 1930(age 51)
Place of deathEdinburgh, Scotland
Height1.74 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing positionStriker

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Robert Staig "Bobby" Walker (10 January 1879, in Dalrymple Place, Edinburgh 28 August 1930 in Edinburgh) was a Scottish professional footballer, he was the most capped Scottish footballer for Heart of Midlothian with 29 caps until the record was broken in 2006 by Steven Pressley. He held the Scotland national team caps record at various points from 1905 to 1931. If caps are "weighted" to measure the number of games that were possible to play in a season he is number 3 in the all time Scottish caps list. His Scotland career of 13 Years, 1 Month and 3 days places him no 11 in the all time list. He shares the record of 11 Scottish caps versus England along with Alan Morton of Queens Park and Rangers. The record would have been 12 as he played in the Ibrox disaster match of 5 April 1902 which has subsequently been declared unofficial. In addition he won 14 Scottish Football League caps which places him 7th in the all time list.

Walker was the first Hearts player to score over 100 league goals, and he scored Hearts' 1000th league goal. Other notable achievements are his 33 goals against Hibernian, which is the record tally in the Edinburgh Derby if local competitions are included. He scored two hat-tricks against Hearts' Edinburgh rivals, the first at the age of 19 years and 9 months in a 5-1 victory at Easter Road on 28 October 1898. He repeated the feat on 18 September 1905 again at Easter Road in a 3-0 win.

Walker joined Hearts from Dalry Primrose in 1896, making his debut in a "trial" match vs Sunderland. He played in a few games that clinched Hearts 2nd League Championship in 1897.

Hearts' 1901 Scottish Cup win was remembered as "Walker's Final", the Hearts beating Celtic 4-3. With the score poised at 3-3 The Scotsman reported it thus: "It, however, proved staunch, and the Edinburgh team soon showed that they were not going to relinquish the grasp of the cup which their play entitled them to, and Walker once more proved himself the grandest forward on the field. Taking the ball some thirty yards right through the opposition, he shot straight and true. M'Arthur saved, but sent the "leather" to Bell, who tipped it over to Houston. By the last named it was again sent towards the Celtic custodian who muddled his attempt to avert, and again the Hearts were one to the good." After this match Charlie Thomson dubbed him "The Best Player in Europe" and his style of football, involving brilliant footwork and sublime passing was known as "Walkerism". He also played in Hearts Scottish Cup win of 1906.

During Hearts' first overseas tour to Norway in May 1912 King Haakon of Norway attended one of the games to specifically see Walker play. His brother Alex Walker also played for Hearts.

Walker became a Hearts Director in 1920. He died at the early age of 51 in August 1930. Huge crowds lined the funeral route and thousands stood round his graveside. His obituary in The Scotsman stated the following: "The Hearts never had a more brilliant forward than Walker. He was amazingly clever in manipulating the ball, and , it was on skill alone that he relied, for he was never favoured with physique. With the ball at his feet he could turn on his course elusively, and in such little space, that he could often put a whole defence out of position with his deft movement."

The Football Encyclopaedia from 1934, edited by Frank Johnston, referred to him simply as "Bobby Walker, the greatest natural footballer who ever played."

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