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On this day in 2008: Theo Walcott becomes England’s youngest hat-trick hero

Soccer – FIFA World Cup 2010 – Qualifying Round – Group Six – Croatia v England – Maksimir Stadium
(Image credit: Owen Humphreys)

Teenager Theo Walcott became the youngest player to score an England hat-trick on this day in 2008.

The 19-year-old claimed his first international goals as Fabio Capello’s rampant side stunned Croatia with a 4-1 win in World Cup qualifying.

During a memorable evening in Zagreb, Arsenal forward Walcott registered England’s first competitive treble since Michael Owen bagged three against Germany in the 5-1 win in Munich in 2001.

Manager Capello said: “He is young and so dangerous for defenders. He is one of the most important young players in England. At this moment, he is difficult to contain.”

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Walcott, keeping former captain David Beckham out of the side, drilled the dominant visitors into a half-time lead, before doubling the advantage with a carbon-copy second just before the hour mark.

Wayne Rooney added a third and, after Croatia – who had Robert Kovac sent off at 1-0 – pulled one back through Mario Mandzukic, Walcott had the final say, racing clear to slot home with eight minutes remaining.

Walcott, a shock selection for the 2006 World Cup by Sven-Goran Eriksson, was left out of Capello’s 2010 squad and has never made a World Cup appearance.

The 31-year-old Everton man won the last of his 47 international caps in a friendly against Spain in November 2016.