After everything that has been argued, debated and written about Arsenal and England star Theo Walcott since he was left out of Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad, it was refreshing change on Tuesday when I picked up a newspaper to finally hear from the player himself.
Walcott is used to the hype and publicity of course, it has followed him around ever since he broke into Harry Redknapp’s Southampton side in 2005 as the youngest player to represent the club in its history.
It’s ironic that the shock and uproar which greeted the Italian’s decision to leave out Walcott this summer, was strikingly similar to the unrest caused by Sven Goran Eriksson and his decision to name the winger in his 2006 World Cup squad, despite never having actually seen him play.
Capello was castigated for his decision to drop Walcott from his 23-man squad, preferring to take experienced duo Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon in his place. Hindsight is a wonderful thing however and Walcott admits himself his form was not good enough to warrant a place on the world’s biggest stage.
“It’s always disappointing [missing out]. You want to play in the biggest competitions in the world. You want to play against the best. And you want to play for England,” revealed Walcott.
“But I couldn’t point fingers at anyone. I had to blame myself because the form wasn’t there at the end of the season and I just wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
After firing in a sublime hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb, to propel England towards World Cup qualification, injuries last season played their part in Walcott managing just 15 starts for Arsene Wenger’s side. The 21-year-old has started this season in magnificent form however, with four goals in three appearances, including an impressive hat-trick against newly promoted Blackpool. Despite Alan Hansen’s now infamous criticism on Match of the Day, Walcott is determined to continue his good form throughout the season.
“My involvement in general play is getting much better now,” he said.
“It has been up and down but I have been in the limelight since I was 16. I have been around for a very long time. I am 21 now.
“It has come right for me this season. You need to mix your game. For Arsenal especially I have been coming inside a bit more and getting on the goal sheet.”
Walcott has benefited from failing to make England’s World Cup squad and now looks fitter, fresher and more determined to prove Capello wrong this season. Arsenal’s No.14 started England’s first match since the World Cup last month and now hopes to star in the up-and-coming Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
Walcott now has a new sense of perspective and fresh outlook following his World Cup frustration and he can go a long way this season, as an England and Arsenal regular, to ensure he is never overlooked again.