It’s almost two years since Theo Walcott’s finest hour in an England shirt. The Arsenal’s man smashed his way in to Fabio Capello’s thoughts with a sublime hat-trick in England’s 4-1 demolition of Croatia. After slowly falling from grace since that day, the former Southampton man has started this season with a bang, scoring four times in his last two games. Now we will finally see Walcott reach the level he did back in Zagreb?
Walcott’s performance that night showed the World just what he could do. But unfortunately he was never able to build on his display that night and stuttered over the following months and ultimately seasons.
He came under lots of criticism with people saying he lacked any end product and didn’t have a footballing brain. Walcott found himself frequently left out of the Arsenal side and he was never able to replicate something anywhere close to that performance against Croatia for England.
It was almost as if Walcott had found himself haunted by the ghost of Zagreb. Instead of using that performance to take his career to the next level, the performance held him back with fans expecting him to constantly reproduce displays like that.
But it wasn’t just fans that were disappointed by Walcott as Capello eventually lost patience with the man who had set his tenure off to a flying start. Walcott was the surprise name that was left out of this summer’s World Cup and it seemed as if he would find it hard to work his way back in to Capello’s plans.
But since then Walcott has said and done all the right things. He has admitted he didn’t deserve to go to South Africa and claimed that he has to work hard to make Capello pick him again. On the pitch he did exactly this and his hat-trick against Blackpool coupled with a very well taken goal against Blackburn has shown that Walcott is still an incredible prospect.
Whether Walcott is ready to perform to his potential on a regular basis is another question. We must remember that he is only 21. At 21 inconsistency is something that we should expect of him. He is still learning this game and can only gain consistency with age.
We are not going to see the sort of performances that we saw in Zagreb every week, but we might see them more often and hopefully for Walcott the ghost of Zagreb may be slowly starting to disappear.