Premier League

A tribute to the ex-Arsenal prodigy Theo Walcott on his retirement

As Gary Neville reminded Theo Walcott, the 34-year-old has achieved what millions of children dream about but find untenable, he had ‘completed football’.


Arsenal’s former player used the Overlap YouTube programme to announce his retirement.

He says it would be unfair to accept one of the multiple offers as a free agent when his ‘heart wasn’t in it’ anymore.

Some might argue his passion for the sport started to fade in 2018. That’s when he accepted a transfer to Everton, ending his 12 years stay in North London.

Numerous injuries had meant he had been robbed of the pace which was always his major weapon.

As evidenced at Goodison and then Saint Mary’s, his mind was willing, his body was not.

That his contract was allowed to expire at his last two clubs with zero offers to stay tells its own story.

The irony is that an interview to hang up his boots was heavily focused on the narrative of a 16-year-old being selected for a World Cup having yet played a second of Prem football.

That decision, one that threw a teenager into a national spotlight, was such a weight around his neck that it’s almost appropriate he should mention it as he chooses to turn his back on the game.

It meant the press attention was bigger on and off the pitch than it would have been had he not gone on the plane to Germany.

The expectation level would have been lower.

He would have had more room to breathe and develop at his own speed.

The moment Sven Goran Erikson selected him ahead of Jermaine Defoe and Darrent Bent, everyone wanted to know just how special was this talent have to be to be picked ahead of peers who were starting every week while Mr Wenger wouldn’t even put him on his bench in the League?

All parties have admitted it was a mistake. Instead of being England’s secret weapon, Theo turned up. exactly what he was, a shy, quiet child who looked out of place alongside the golden generation.

His teammates looked after him and made sure he felt part of the set up, but even they couldn’t quite work out why the decision had been made?

So, when Theo Walcott didn’t turn out to be the Three Lions version of Messi or Ronaldo, everyone wanted to know why?

The accusations ranged from him lacking the intelligence to improve and/or being too nice to succeed.

At his peak, the attacker was good but simply not world class. Zero disgrace in that.

He still performed at a level where he consistently played for one of the biggest clubs in the UK, mostly in the Champions League.

If he had been born elsewhere, his career would be celebrated.

As he rightly points out, he’s recorded stats that most today would deem a success.

Imagine if Eddie Nketiah one year scored 21 goals and contributed 16 assists!

Yet, I have written on this site long enough to know the very same readers who defend Eddie’s numbers of 15 league goals in 6 seasons, were always ruthless towards Theo. Sometimes downright nasty.

It highlights the standards our fanbase once had, and how a generation have grown up thinking they can’t say anything bad about the players we have.

The bar of what is acceptable has been lowered.

Only 19 men in our entire history have scored over 100 goals for the Arsenal, only 7 in the Prem era.

The irony being that for someone deemed too nice, he came out fighting as he sat down with Mr Neville.

Instead of focusing on bad luck with injuries, Cup Finals he missed, international tournaments he was overlooked for, disagreements with Capello and Southgate, etc, Theo simplified how he viewed the last 18 years.

He dreamt of football being his paid job.

Not just did that become a reality, he won trophies, played at Finals, shared the pitch with Europe’s finest, represented his country, travelled the world, etc.

Fittingly his final goal was against us.

Given how he was treated by some at the Emirates many deserved for him to get the last laugh, playing his role in costing us in the title race.

We might be seeing more of Theo in the world of media.

One a Gunner, always a Gunner.

On behalf of everyone at JustArsenal enjoy your retirement, Theo.


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