Theo Walcott has announced his retirement from football at the age of 34. The forward’s career spanned 18 years and he will most be remembered for his time at Arsenal as well as winning 47 caps for England.
Walcott began his career as a youngster at Southampton, earning a reputation as a rapid attacking wide player. He joined Arsenal in January 2006 at the age of 16 and was called into the England squad for the World Cup that summer.
He became England’s youngest-ever player at senior level at 17 years and 75 days old and remains that to this day. Walcott didn’t play a minute at the World Cup and never played again at a major tournament for the Three Lions, due to injury and selection.
The majority of Walcott’s career was spent at Arsenal, where he made 397 appearances in all competitions, scoring 108 goals. He won two FA Cups during his time at the Gunners, including scoring in the 2015 final win over Aston Villa.
He left Arsenal to sign for Everton in January 2018 and had three-and-a-half years at Goodison Park. His career went full circle in the summer of 2020 when he rejoined boyhood club Southampton on loan before making the move permanent at the end of the season.
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Injuries continued to trouble him and he was unable to help keep the south coast club in the Premier League last season. Walcott had offers from elsewhere this summer but has chosen to hang up his boots.
In an emotional video posted on social media, Walcott said: “The first moment I put my football boots on aged 10 was a special journey for me. From playing in the park with friends to performing in some of the biggest stadiums in front of huge crowds across the world.
“The support shown to me throughout this time has been incredible and in every way imaginable I am truly grateful. I shared the football pitch with so many incredible players and we have created so many unforgettable memories.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to all the managers and coaches that I’ve worked with, especially Harry [Redknapp] for giving me a start and Arsene [Wenger] for showing the belief and supporting me when I joined the club at only 16 years old. Over 18 fantastic years in the Premier League, there are so many moments I will cherish.
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“The early days at Southampton Football Club, my transfer to Arsenal where I spent 12 enjoyable years and scored over 100 goals, winning the FA Cup and scoring in the final which is every kid’s dream. To have had the opportunity to represent England 47 times and to go to the World Cup in 2006 aged just 17 and still to hold the record for the youngest-ever debut by a senior England player and the youngest hat-trick goalscorer at 19 – I will never forget that feeling.
“Goodison Park is such a special place to play and Everton will always be in my heart. I loved my time there and will never forget the way the fans welcomed me and my family.
“And finally back to Southampton to complete the circle. It’s a great club with an exciting young team that I know will get better and better.
“I’m lucky enough to have had offers to continue playing but it feels right to finish where I started and hang up my football boots. Thank you to everyone who has been with me along the way.”
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