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Theo Walcott: A Glimpse of Potential, Unfulfilled

Theo Walcott was one of the best young players when he first entered the scene. But as time passed by, he seemed to stay that way, so potential doesn’t always come to fruition.

Last updated: 02.07.2019
Theo Walcott: A Glimpse of Potential, Unfulfilled | Sports Social Blog

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Arsenal FC has been one of the hotbeds for developing young talent, especially after Arsene Wenger took over and became a household name. The North London based club has churned out world-class talent like the most efficient of factory throughout recent history. Theo Walcott looked to be one of those talents, looking at all the signs. He had (and still does have) a mountain of talent and skill. He was supposed to be the next big thing but the problem is that he stayed that way.

A lot of people who don’t keep tabs on player ages would surely drop their jaws after finding out that Theo Walcott is only 30 years. Sure, 30 isn’t exactly young but considering how long it seems like Theo Walcott has been in the game, the number feels almost mathematically wrong. That being said, he certainly isn’t a young player anymore. Walcott played in 270 games for the Gunners from 2006 to 2018. Yes, 2006. So you didn’t stretch the numbers in your imagination. He has been playing for quite a long time. Seems like he is one of the youngest veterans of the sport and quite frankly, he kind of is. 


Wee Years and Talent:

At the age of 17 years and 65 days, he became England’s youngest ever senior footballer. He had talent in spades, suffice to say. He played for the national English team from 2006 and he scored in only his 4th int. cap. He played against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League 4 days after his Arsenal debut, making him the youngest player to appear in European competition at the time. His first goal for Arsenal came in the 2007 League Cup final against Chelsea where they lost 2-1. He had great offensive talent with his pace and technique which he used as his ace in the hole to try to do some damage to his opponents. He eventually won some trophies with the Club: FA Cup trophies in 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.

The Exposure:

It’s no surprise that as a result of his long time at Arsenal he has been learning from some of the best players. His time coincided with Arsenal and Premier League legend Dennis Bergkamp who left the Gunners in 2006, the same year Walcott joined(January transfer). He played alongside Cesc Fabregas who was, at a point in his time at Arsenal, one of the most sought-after midfielders in the game, thanks to his fantastic passing skills and vision. Of course, nobody can forget some of Walcott's link-ups with Robin Van Persie, one of the deadliest strikers of his generation. Finally, there’s the Holy Grail of all Arsenal legends, Thierry Henry. Probably the greatest striker the Premier League has ever seen. Walcott played alongside him and even inherited his number 14 jersey after the Frenchman left the club.


The Speed:

Goes without saying that Theo Walcott has always had talent in spades. But there is one thing that sets him apart from even most great players in the world and that is his pace and speed. He has displayed Olympic gold medal - levels of speed time and time again. On every list that has ever been made about the fastest footballers since he started playing, Theo Walcott has always been there, often topping them. In the 2015 season, he had an incredible top speed of 34.68 km/h and it was past his 'faster' years. He has had a reputation for clocking those kinds of speeds for most of his career. He is still considered to be somewhat of a speed merchant in Everton despite being 30 years old. He was one of or possibly the fastest player in the old days when Ronaldo and Bale were the talks of the town when it came to speed. He was still in and around the same position years later when Hector Bellerin and newer players were being praised for their speed.


The Legendary Reading Game:

In October of 2012, football fans witnessed a scoreline that they never thought was even feasible in the modern game. It was Arsenal vs Reading and when the game was done and dusted the scorecard read Arsenal 7-5 Reading. An instant Capital One Cup Classic and at the end there was an abundance of praise and a lot of it was directed at Theo Walcott. Arsenal were 4-0 down in the first 35 minutes because of Jason Roberts, a Koscielny own goal, Mikele Leigertwood, and Noel Hunt. It seemed all over. Walcott netted one in just before half time. The second Arsenal goal came from Olivier Giroud in the 64th minute. Laurent Koscielny instilled a lot of energy into the Gunners with his 89th-minute header. It was Walcott who turned the game around and levelled the scoreline in the dying seconds, pushing the game to extra-time. Marouane Chamakh scored a fantastic 5 goal. Then it was Reading who levelled thanks to a header from Pogrebnyak. It was Walcott again who scored the 6th goal in extra time putting Arsenal back in the league and then it was Chamakh who scored the final goal of the game with another stoppage-time goal. And so, the score read 7-5; perhaps the greatest comeback in football history and Theo Walcott was there, front and centre. 

Observation over the years:

Theo Walcott was a great player from a very early age. Even that Reading comeback occurred when he was 23 years old and he was considered a mainstay by that point already. It was expected that he would surmount the insurmountable but he stayed that way. The realization came before long that his best days were already behind him and no one had noticed it while it was happening. It’s not necessarily a bad thing considering that he didn’t decline in terms of performance to an undesired degree. He’d just plateau’d. There were similar performances from him every season. His numbers for Arsenal throughout his career mostly remained the same(except ‘12-’13 when he scored 14 goals and 10 assists) with single digit goal and assist counts in almost every season of his career. Eventually, he was sold to Everton. In the most recent season, he was mostly overshadowed by players like Digne, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, and Keane(at the back) even though he did score against Man United towards the end of the season.


Goes to show that potential doesn’t always come to fruition (not that he’s the worst example; far from it) and that is definitely something to consider in this day and age where mostly young players who have yet to prove themselves dominate the transfer seasons. 

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