Just in case a price tag rising to £12M wasn’t enough to give 16 year-old Theo Walcott a fright, Sol Campbell welcomed him to Arsenal with a kick.
Walcott had only played 23 first team games for Southampton when he arrived at London Colney in the winter of 2006, but Campbell was quick to let him know he wouldn’t get an easy ride.
“Sol Campbell kicked me up in the air straight away!” Walcott said. “That was a welcome to Arsenal.”
Recently, Walcott spoke about Jeff Reine-Adelaide potentially being overawed at a big club and says the same happened to him when he first turned up. Players you see on TV every day, use on FIFA, and have watched for years are suddenly your teammates and that must take some getting used to.
“I also met Thierry and Robert Pires on the first day and I looked so nervous seeing my heroes straight away. Ashley Cole, Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Jens, Gilberto, everyone was great.
“Ashley and Sol were probably the main ones though. We went to the World Cup and I knew them from Arsenal so they looked after me. I got to train against one of the best left backs at the time, Ashley, so that definitely improved my game.”
Now an established first team member, Walcott is the longest serving player at the club. He has made over 300 appearances for the club and the 100 goal mark is in sight. He may even be trusted with a central berth this season and, if he is, he just needs to stay fit.
Injuries have cost Walcott a lot of time at Arsenal but time is still on his side, now is a chance to prove doubters wrong and the best way to do that is to regularly stick the ball in the back of the net.
There are 17 players on 100 Arsenal goals and Walcott needs 24 to join them. If he does, maybe he can give Sol a ring and thank him for introducing him to the club.