England boss Roy Hodgson yesterday announced his preliminary squad for Euro 2016 this summer – and Theo Walcott wasn’t included.
The Arsenal speedster was omitted for Newcastle’s Andros Townsend and will unbelievably miss yet another international tournament. Theo had the world at his feet after signing for the Gunners aged 17 and was taken to the 2006 World Cup by Sven, Sven, Sven Goran-Eriksson – although he never played.
Things started looking up for the former Southampton man when he netted in a 3-2 win against Sweden at Euro 2012. But his career path has been relatively static since then.
Here’s five things Theo can do to fill his spare time this summer – instead of playing footie at Euro 2016.
FIND A NEW CLUB
Walcott has scored just 55 goals in a decade at Arsenal and despite flashes of brilliance – like his performance against Manchester United at the Emirates this season gone – some would argue he’s never really fulfilled his initial promise.
What’s his actual position? Is he a striker? A winger? Is he just a speed merchant or is there more under the bonnet than just raw pace? Lots of Arsenal fans now want Walcott out the club and there’s rumours a £20 million bid from West Ham could be on the horizon.
Asked whether the flier could leave, Wenger said the other week: “I don’t know yet. I’m not in transfer mode at the moment but I think he has gone through a bad spell.”
WRITE SOME MORE CHILDREN’S BOOKS
Did you know Theo has penned various books for youngsters?
Crackers like TJ and the Penalty, TJ and the Cup Run and TJ and the Hat-Trick have shifted a fair few thousand copies between them. The books have no doubt given Theo a good avenue to channel some energy outside football – and lots of kids an engaging read.
The kid’s fiction books are based around Theo himself and a time when he discovered his natural ability for football.
“He threw the ball against [a wall] and headed it back again, trying to keep his eyes wide open. It wasn’t as hard as he’d expected … Then he started kicking it, trying to keep it bouncing. That was easy, so he began to use both feet, left then right.”
The rest they say, is history.
Theo’s books have generally gone down well with critics, so maybe he could spend this summer writing another? He can call it: TJ’s Lonely Summer.
TAKE UP ATHLETICS
Theo spent most of his early childhood deciding whether to pursue athletics or football, such was his talent for both.
His greatest strength is no doubt his speed, naturally. He set a 100m record of 11.58 seconds at Downs School in 2004 and once admitted he preferred track and field over footie.
Walcott said: “Football did not really interest me until I was 10. I did not even know it existed, it was funny really.
“Athletics stood out for me when I was younger, I liked the 100 metres. When I did start playing football, I was in goal and that was because I really loved the penalty shoot-outs, where I could save it and be the hero.
“Then I started playing for AFC Newbury and scored more than 100 goals for them in just one season. It was basically just a long ball over the top and I would run on to it. I scored six in my first game.
“I just enjoyed playing and did not think I would be where I am now.”
Walcott’s 100m record was broken by a Year 9 pupil at his former Berkshire school in 2011. Maybe Theo can return to the school this summer in a bid to win back his 100m title?
SPEND FOUR WEEK’S WORTH OF WAGES
Theo’s obviously gutted about not going to Euro 2016 but he earns around £140,000 a week at Arsenal – that’s £322,000 a MONTH after tax. That should soften the blow.
But what could he buy? A ticket into space, perhaps. For just £250,000 (just) Theo can snap up a ticket on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space ship – and still have change left over for lunch.
Or he could totally ruin his fitness by heading to a famous fast food restaurant and stuff 300,000 cheeseburgers. But who would do that?
JUST FOCUS ON PROVING EVERYBODY WRONG
Arsenal and England fans alike will tell you Theo is a very talented footballer who has been dealt a few duff hands in recent years.
Yes he can be frustrating on the pitch at times but big injuries have also limited his playing time. The most serious came in January 2014 when he ruptured his cruciate ligaments against Spurs. He missed an entire season’s worth of games because of it (38) over 288 days.
He was out for another 33 days in October because of a calf strain and in total has missed 647 days of football throughout his career, according to www.transfermarkt.com.
It’s not all over for him yet, however. Theo is still just 27-years-old and potentially has another three major international tournaments to break into. He just needs to knuckle down, find his rhythm and perhaps a new club.
And stop pulling out of tackles like this:
This is what 120k a week gets you ? pic.twitter.com/ysUGZQTrxh
— Arsene’s Chilean (@ArsenesChilean) April 24, 2016