Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott’s renaissance is being driven by his disappointment at missing out on yet another major international tournament.
The attacker, 27, was one of Arsenal’s stand-out players in the 3-0 victory over Chelsea scoring his third goal of the campaign and working hard to help out at the back.
The energetic performance marked a sharp contrast to Walcott’s consistently limp showing last season and has been warmly welcomed by his manager who was quick to highlight the disappointment of missing out on selection for Euro 2016 as a factor.
“What was a big blow for him was not to go to the Euros,” Wenger is quoted as saying by The Times [paywalled].
“He went at 16 to the World Cup in 2006 [and didn’t play]. He was not picked for 2010 [and was injured in 2014]. We are now at 2016 and he hasn’t been to another World Cup.”
“He’s matured,” Wenger added. “When a player survives this type of disappointment from what was promised for him at 16, the way he dealt with the situation I always felt there was something special in this guy.
“He’s intelligent, Theo. He assesses well his own performances. He’s 27, it’s a very important age.
“He used to be 90 per cent forward and 10 per cent defending. Today he’s 50-50. He does the job both ways and he does it with commitment. I always felt there’s character and intelligence in this boy.
“He’s a guy with a good assessment of his performances and qualities. I said at the start of the season that we’d see a different Theo Walcott. I could see he made a decision and sticks to it.”