When the name ‘Theo Walcott’ was read out in the 2006 England World Cup squad announcement, half of England fell of their chairs in disbelief.
Sensationally, a 16-year-old who hadn’t kicked a ball in the Premier League was included ahead of the likes of prolific goalscorers Darren Bent, Andy Johnson and Jermain Defoe.
Sven was sure he was bedding in England’s next superstar in the senior squad, and the world seemed at the young Arsenal starlet’s feet.
But then – as the football world loves to do to young players who are built up too soon – he was quickly knocked down, and it all went wrong in his international career. When Michael Owen crumpled to the ground in a heap, England’s chances were over and they were swiftly knocked out, with Theo the scapegoat.
Things looked up for him as set England fans hopes racing again with hattrick away to Croatia in 2008, however with them disappointingly failing to qualify, the next two years were filled with poor form and injury, resulting in the biggest travesty of his career when he was left out of his 2010 Word Cup Squad. When he had a fantastic 2012/13 season, he then suffered again with a cruel injury and missed the 2014 World Cup through injury.
The curse of never having an opportunity in a decade to prove himself at a tournament will burn at him, and I think he will have a great tournament in France if his recent form is to go by.
His versatility, pace and goal threat will be vital to the future of the England attack and with him at his peak now and one of the most experienced players in the squad, there’s no doubt he will be a crucial part of the England setup for the next few years.