Theo Walcott: is he good enough
On a blustery Friday afternoon at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground 10 years ago, a baby-faced Walcott stood side by side with Arsene Wenger as he was unveiled to a cluster of journalists and photographers as the most expensive 16-year-old in British football history.
The Gunners had agreed a deal that could rise to as high as £12m for the precocious young talent, with Wenger talking up his “huge potential” and former Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe speaking of “bitter disappointment” at his departure.
Walcott was famously included in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s 2006 World Cup squad before he had even kicked a ball for Arsenal at first-team level, and he was just 17 years old when he beat Petr Cech, now his team-mate, with a superbly-taken opening goal in the 2007 League Cup final against Chelsea.
He has gone on to become Arsenal’s current longest-serving player, he has scored 81 goals in 322 appearances for the Gunners, and he is also approaching a half-century of caps for England. And yet the Saints youth product approaches a decade at Arsenal with a lingering sense that he has not yet reached his potential.