Ahead of the Gunners’ game against Everton on Saturday, Theo Walcott looked back at his Arsenal career and talked about what it would feel like to return.
The winger spent over 10 years at Arsenal, but returned in an Everton shirt this weekend. He told BT Sport that he felt there was a bit of unfinished business for him after the move:
“I think you can see the smiles back when I’m playing, and that’s what I want,” Theo explained. “I just want to express myself and enjoy my football. I think there’s some unfinished business.
“It’s not saying ‘prove people wrong’ or anything like this. I just want to do it for myself.”
Theo returning to the Emirates was an emotional experience for a lot of fans. He is still a well-loved character among many supporters, and you could hear the chants of “Theo! Theo!” even after he charged through on Arsenal’s goal.
Before the match, the 28-year-old said the situation hadn’t fully registered with him yet, but thinking about the match got him feeling a bit emotional.
“It’s not hit me yet. The way I left, not being able to see my teammates properly and the staff and everyone else. I’ve had a really nice video message from the players and that was quite emotional to be honest. It really was.
“As soon as I get off that coach and go towards Gunnersaurus and all that it’s going to hit me. It’s probably starting to hit me now to be honest!”
Fulfilling his potential
Walcott then responded to some criticism from BT Sport pundit, Rio Ferdinand. The former Manchester United defender said the forward needs to show what he promised as a 17-year-old on the plane to the World Cup.
“When you go to a big club at 16 you do miss that development side,” Walcott admitted.
“You have to be a man straight away. It’s difficult to go into a first team dressing room with the likes of Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires.
“It’s a lot to take in as a young kid when you’re there still collecting your Match Attax stickers and all that stuff and you’ve got the players with you!”
Despite seeming to understand the criticism, the former Arsenal man was keen to defend himself. As well he might, considering all the goals he scored, including the openers in FA Cup and League Cup finals.
“I’ve been pleased with the way things have gone on a personal level,” he said. “I’m not someone to be disappointed with what I’ve achieved so far. Scoring over 100 goals for Arsenal as a winger, that’s not a bad thing to do.”
I think that was reflected in the fans’ response, and the unanimous round of applause after Walcott’s substitution. It was the right time for him to move on, but he gave a lot, and the supporters recognise that.
Hopefully now the Theo can push on for the remainder of the season and get into the World Cup squad.
A few goals against Arsenal’s big-six rivals on the way would go down well too.