Theo ready for Spanish reunion
By Nicholas Veevers
Friday, 11 November, 2011
Walcott ready to face his former captain.
England’s Theo Walcott is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the Spanish again and it’s something he’s become accustomed to over the last few years.
The Arsenal man has come face-to-face with the Iberians for both club and country in recent seasons and tasted both victory and defeat along the way.
Walcott also has the prospect of coming up against former Gunners team-mate Cesc Fabregas for the first time following his move away from the Emirates Stadium earlier this year.
“He’s a fantastic player and was a fantastic captain for Arsenal,” said Walcott.
“But now he puts on a Barca shirt, it just seems to suit him. I think it just looks right and it’s where he always wanted to be in the end. That’s where he started out and he’s fitted into the team really well, he’s scoring goals and enjoying himself.
“He’s in good form for Barcelona and scored a few goals, so he’s flying with confidence.
“Then there’s David Silva too. He doesn’t score as many goals as Messi, but there are things that Silva does on the pitch that are unreal. He doesn’t just score goals, he is part of the build-up and his subtlety and passing are immense.”
Walcott himself has been in a decent run of form at club level and his fine goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Arsenal’s 5-3 win two weeks ago typified that, with the player himself believing that was one of his best to date.
“It would be up there, as one of the best goals I’ve scored,” he admitted. “I prefer some of the other goals I’ve scored, and I did feel like maybe Cech could have done slightly better, although there was power in the shot. It’s probably in my top three.
“I thought someone had tripped me up and I didn’t realise until I watched it back that I fell over, but it worked out because everyone put their hands up and I managed to beat three players after that!”
Walcott, who featured in England Under-21s’ 2-0 victory over Spain at the European Championships in 2009, also believes the Three Lions can take confidence into the sold-out game at Wembley after their recent qualification for the UEFA EURO 2012 finals next summer.
A draw with Montenegro last month secured their progress and top spot in the group, but Walcott insists the players also learnt some important lessons from that game.
“We started the game unbelievably well, but it was just the last five minutes of the first half that we started to switch off a little and they got that goal right before half time,” he explained.
“I think the team talk was a little different than the Manager was expecting, but we defended well in the second half and it was always going to be a battle.
“But to be fair to them, they dug deep and with the goal right at the end of the game, there was nothing we could have done about it. The cross was really good, all our positioning was right but it went to the one place that was un-defendable almost.
“It was strange with them reaching the play-offs with a draw, it felt weird and we knew we had qualified but they almost overshadowed that with their fans getting the result they needed.
“They were in the play-offs and they seemed happier than us and we had actually got to the tournament. It felt strange in the dressing room afterwards, we were happy we got what we came for but no one was jumping up and down like we’d won the league or anything like that.
“The last 20 minutes took a lot out of the players physically and mentally, but the main thing was we were there and no-one really cares how you qualify, just that you do.
“It was mixed emotions I guess, but it was a tough place to go and we got what we went for.”
Buy the official match programme for the Spain game to read the full interview with Theo in which he discusses the Spanish in more detail and his experiences of playing them.