Theo Walcott focused on the future after long spell out

Tuesday 31 Mar 2015
Walcott is keen to prove himself again for England

Theo Walcott says becoming a dad helped him deal with being out of the game for a year, but now he is back in action the Arsenal flyer is eager to prove himself once again.

Having not featured for England in nearly 18 months, Walcott came on in the second half of the Three Lions' 4-0 win over Lithuania at Wembley on Friday night – his 37th international appearance.

Italy v England

International Match
7.45pm (BST), Tuesday 31 March 2015
Juventus Stadium, Turin
Live on ITV

A knee injury in January 2014 had kept him on the sidelines until November, which meant he also missed out on a chance to play at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

However, he was instead able to focus on his family – and especially his young son – while he went through his rehabilitation.

“I’ve had a long spell on the sidelines but I’ve worked hard to get to where I am,” Walcott told

“I had a lot of other things going on, we had a child so the time flew by.

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott checks out Juventus Stadium

“It’s such a cliche when people say kids grow up so fast, but it’s so true. It was him that helped me take my mind off being out and the weeks just went by quickly.

“He’s nearly a year old, he was born in April, and he’s been walking for about eight weeks. 

“He’s really flying around, he’s very quick on the floor, so he’s definitely like me!

“He’s kicking a ball around, doing some squats, working on his glutes,” joked the former Southampton forward. “But, no, he’s a really good boy.”

Walcott continued: “You’ve got to stay positive. I did all my rehab and worked really hard, set myself targets each week and I managed to hit them.

“At the end of it you reach your goal, which is playing again and being back with your team-mates doing what you love doing.

“It wasn’t all doom and gloom, there are people worse off in the world. When you see the guys go out training, when you’re not, it’s hard. But I just want to forget about it.

“I’ve been through it and it’s all about the present now and I’m looking forward. 

“So to get the England shirt back on was a massive achievement and an honour. It was a special moment at Wembley, and a win, in a different looking team since I last played. I was very pleased to play.”

Theo Walcott

Walcott was back in action at Wembley against Lithuania

Though it was Walcott’s first England outing since September 2013, he was involved with the squad back in November shortly after returning to Arsene Wenger’s side at the Emirates.

While he didn’t feature in the two 3-1 wins over Slovenia and Scotland, he was thankful to Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson for having faith and bringing him back into the international fold so quickly.

And the 26-year-old is keen to show his appreciation to Hodgson by performing for England on the pitch.

“The manager was fantastic and he gave me a call when I’d just got back for Arsenal and he just wanted me to be amongst the squad, which was nice,” revealed Walcott.

“I really wanted to come, so it’s nice that I wasn’t forgotten about. The manager has always had the faith in me.

“That’s what you want from a manager, someone who believes in you. I just want to repay that faith.”

He said: ”I’ve been out for a whole year – you still have to work hard in training and when you get the opportunity in games you want to do the best that you can.

“If you take someone out of their job for a year, when they get back to it they won’t be the same as when they left. I feel like I’m getting there and it’s not going to be long before I’m back to my best.”

Walcott and his England team-mates have arrived in Turin and are looking to stretch their 100 per cent start to the season to eight successive games when they take on Italy.

Theo Walcott

The Arsenal man featured at Wembley in September 2013

The nations last met in June at the World Cup and Walcott was watching the 2-1 defeat at home with his family – but he does remember coming on to play in the Euro 2012 quarter-final two years before.

England were on the losing side that night, too, going out on penalties, and he says Tuesday’s friendly at Juventus Stadium is a chance to get one over their “big rivals”.

“I was the next penalty taker,” Walcott remembers from that night in Donetsk as former West Ham man Alessandro Diamanti sealed victory from the spot.

“During shootouts you are a bit oblivious to what is going on around you, to be honest.  I assumed I was up next [after Diamanti], but Italy were celebrating so I obviously didn’t take it.

“I was watching the World Cup on holiday in Portugal, I had a couple of weeks off as I was training throughout the summer.

“We have great options, you want all the players playing well and going into a tournament you want everyone to be fit”

Theo Walcott 

“I think I actually saw the Italy game while I was in England as I was still doing my rehab.

“It’s one of those things we want to put right, especially away from home, but it’ll be a very tough game. They are a big rival, definitely, so it’s an opportunity for some players to stamp their authority in their position and it’s going to be a good test.”

He added: “We have a lot of competition in this squad, and that’s what you want, it’s healthy and it gives the manager a headache to pick the best line-up.

“We have great options, you want all the players playing well and going into a tournament you want everyone to be fit.

“They are all still very young – I’m only 26 and relatively young, but feel like one of the old boys – the grey hairs are coming," he quipped.

“Our goal is the Euros and the way we have played in qualifying shows that we’re definitely a force to be noticed. 

"We’ve set ourselves the goal to win every game. It’s a big ask but I think we can do it.”

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor In Turin