Thursday, August 18, 2011

Theo Walcott

Theo James Walcott (born 16 March 1989) is an English footballer who plays for Arsenal and the England national team. He is a striker who is usually deployed on the right wing. He was the subject of worldwide media attention, following his shock inclusion to the 2006 English World Cup squad.Walcott is well known for his blistering pace, with Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola declaring that “you would need a pistol to stop him.”He has been likened by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger to Walcott's former teammate and captain, Thierry Henry. FIFA World Player of the Year winner Lionel Messi has described Walcott as "one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against."Walcott's start to the 2010-11 season was particularly successful, winning EA SPORTS Player of the Month in August by a landslide.On 21 August 2010, Walcott scored the first hat-trick of his club career after he netted three against newly promoted Blackpool in a 6–0 home win, coming in just the second game of the new season.At the beginning of the 2010-11 season Walcott had a remarkably high goalscoring record; after playing Newcastle on 28 October 2010, it was calculated that Walcott had scored an average of 1 goal for every 48 minutes of playing time. On 27 December 2010, he scored a goal and made an assist to help beat Chelsea 3–1 in a crucial win which, according to manager, Arsène Wenger was a "must-win" game.After an FA Cup third round match against Leeds United on 8 January 2011, Walcott admitted diving in the last minute of the game in an attempt to win a penalty kick. The penalty was not awarded, though Walcott was fouled soon after the dive, winning a legitimate penalty which was converted by Cesc Fabregas, securing a draw for Arsenal and a replay of the fixture - which Arsenal then won. On 21 February, during the 1-0 victory against Stoke City, Walcott had twisted his leg on the turf which left him with an ankle injury. This ruled him out of the League Cup final and the Champions League knockout phase, second-leg against Barcelona. On the last day of the 2010–11 season, Walcott came off the bench to score the equaliser in a 2–2 draw away to Fulham. He ended the season with a career high of 9 goals in the Premier League and 13 goals in all competitions.On 16 August, Walcott scored his first goal of the season in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League qualifying match against Udinese. Walcott's goal was in the 4th minute of play and led to a vital 1–0 win for Arsenal to carry on into the second leg of the tie.Walcott came on as a second half substitute on 25 May 2006 for the England B team against Belarus and was a shock inclusion in Sven-Göran Eriksson's 30-player preliminary England squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, announced on 8 May 2006. When the final 23-man team was announced later that month, he made the cut and was given the number 23. Even with first-choice strikers Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen both recovering from injury, Walcott was selected over established Premier League strikers Darren Bent (the highest-scoring English forward in the Premier League in the 2005–06 season), Andrew Johnson (the top English goalscorer in the Premier League in the 2004–05 season), Dean Ashton (like Bent, already an established player at England Under-21 level) and Jermain Defoe. On 30 May 2006, he became England's youngest ever senior player by appearing in a 3–1 friendly win over Hungary at Old Trafford aged 17 years and 75 days. Eriksson defended his decision, claiming that the experience would serve Walcott well for future tournaments. Despite being one of only two fully fit strikers in the England squad (the other being Crouch), he did not play during the tournament.After the World Cup, Eriksson quit as England manager. New appointment Steve McClaren put Walcott into the England Under-21s, claiming he was "toughening up" on his squad selections.On 15 August, Walcott became the youngest player ever to score for the England national Under-21 football team when he scored the opener after three minutes in England's 2–2 draw with Moldova at Ipswich Town's ground Portman Road. The game against Moldova was his first cap for the England Under-21s.Walcott scored two goals against Germany to seal qualification for England to the Under-21 European Championships, in the playoff second leg in October 2006, with his second drawing comparisons with Thierry Henry.On 6 September 2008, Walcott made his first competitive start in a World Cup qualifier against Andorra, and in the following match against Croatia on 10 September he opened his senior international goals tally and became the youngest player in history to score a hat-trick for England.Over the summer of 2009, Walcott participated in England Under-21 team's European Cup campaign despite protestations from his club manager, Arsène Wenger. Wenger complained that Walcott's participation in the tournament as well as matches with the senior squad would lead to burn out and injury.Walcott returned to the international fold on 3 March 2010 in a friendly against Egypt. It was his first international start for nine months.He faded after a bright start and was replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips after 57 minutes as England recovered from a goal down to beat Egypt 3-1 at Wembley. His performance came under heavy criticisms from Chris Waddle who said of Walcott, "I've never seen him develop. He just doesn't understand the game for me - where to be running, when to run inside a full back, when to just play a one-two. It's all off the cuff. I just don't think he's got a football brain and he's going to have problems. Let's be honest, good defenders would catch him offside every time."Walcott started England's friendly victories against Mexico and Japan in May 2010. However, on 1 June 2010, it was announced that Walcott had been left out of England's 23-man World Cup squad by Fabio Capello. On 4 July, a few days after England's exit from the World Cup, Lionel Messi said that he was shocked by Walcott's exclusion as he believed that Walcott could have made the difference against Germany and Algeria.In January 2011, Capello admitted that he had made a mistake in not selecting Walcott for the 2010 World Cup.In the Euro 2012 Qualifying match against Switzerland on 7 September, Walcott was stretchered off after he was clipped in the build-up to Wayne Rooney's opener for England after 10 minutes,putting him out of action for several weeks.

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