Theo Walcott: Q & A

What was it like playing for Saints when still too young to sign as a professional?
Strange. I was earning £90 a week, living in shared accommodation called The Lodge with 10 other scholars. We were educated and when it came to football I was driven to training in a minibus and we had to be in by 10.30pm at night. Even though I was in the first team, I still had to pick up the balls after training, the bibs, the equipment and put all the dirty kit in the laundry.

Is it true you could have joined Swindon?
I didn’t start playing until I was 10 but I scored about 100 goals for my team AFC Newbury and I joined Swindon’s under-11 team for half a season. But the travelling was too much so I stopped going.

How did you end up at Saints?
I was playing in a tournament for Swindon when Southampton and Chelsea showed an interest. Chelsea invited me to be a ball boy for a game against Liverpool, and it was fantastic to meet my heroes Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler, but Southampton really made me feel wanted. I was shown around the old Dell, then I went to the training ground to see the first team. I just felt more wanted there.

With Arsenal trailing you, did it affect your performances?
I didn’t pay much attention. I left it to the clubs involved, my dad and Warwick Horton, my agent, and I just got on with my football. I was happy at Southampton but once I knew Arsenal wanted to sign me, I felt it was in my best interests to move and before long a fee had been agreed.

Why choose Arsenal when moneybags Chelsea also wanted you?
At this stage of my career, it’s all about my development and I know I’m in the right place at Arsenal. Money’s never been an issue for me, I don’t pay much attention to that kind of thing. I just want to develop as a player and I have the best chance of achieving that under Arsene Wenger.

What was it like when Wenger announced that he wanted to sign you?
Having come out of school just a few months earlier, to hear Arsene saying these things was unbelievable really. I was very flattered but I couldn’t let anything affect me. I remember we had a game with QPR coming up and that was the most important thing for me at the time.

People are already comparing you to Thierry Henry. How do you feel about that?
You can’t compare me with the best striker in the world, but it’s been fantastic to watch Thierry at close quarters: his pace, skill and finishing is amazing and he gets assists as well as being a brilliant goalscorer. I’m  fortunate to have someone like him around when I need advice. He tells me he developed as a player when he joined Arsenal and hopefully I’ll do the same.

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Gregg Davies

Gregg Davies is the Chief Sub Editor of FourFourTwo magazine, joining the team in January 2008 and spending seven years working on the website. He supports non-league behemoths Hereford and commentates on Bulls matches for Radio Hereford FC. His passions include chocolate hobnobs and attempting to shoehorn Ronnie Radford into any office conversation.