Theo James Walcott (born 16 March 1989) is an English professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Arsenal and the England national team. Walcott won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award in 2006.
Walcott is a product of the Southampton Academy and started his career with Southampton before joining Arsenal for £5 million in 2006. His speedy pace and ball crossing led his manager Arsène Wenger to deploy him on the wing for most of his career. In the 2012–13 season, a contract dispute led him to being played as a striker, before returning in the 2013–14 season playing on the wing once again.
Walcott is well known for his blistering pace, with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola declaring that “you would need a pistol to stop him.” He has been likened by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger to the club’s all-time leading scorer, Thierry Henry. FIFA World Player of the Year winner Lionel Messi has described Walcott as “one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against.” In addition to his speed, Walcott also possesses good balance, movement and technique.
On 30 May 2006, Walcott became England’s youngest ever senior football player aged 17 years and 75 days. On 6 September 2008, he made his first competitive start in a World Cup qualifier against Andorra, and in the following match against Croatia on 10 September he opened his senior international goals tally and became the youngest player in history to score a hat-trick for England. He has represented England at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012 and has 42 caps, scoring eight goals.
Walcott has been in a long-term relationship with Melanie Slade, after meeting in 2004 at the WestQuay shopping centre in Southampton. The couple married at the Castello di Vincigliata in Tuscany, Italy, in June 2013. Their son Finley James Walcott was born on 10 April 2014.
Walcott also has been involved with the UK charities Build a School and Best Beginnings.On 6 April 2008, Walcott was a torchbearer for the Olympic Flame for Beijing 2008 as it was paraded around London. He was the second last torchbearer just before Dame Kelly Holmes.
Walcott currently has four published books – “T.J. and the Hat-Trick”, “T.J. and the Penalty”, “T.J. and the Winning Goal” and “T.J. and the Cup Run”. The first two were published in April 2010, with the latter two being published in August 2010. All four were published by Corgi Children’s.
In August 2011, Walcott’s auto-biography Theo: Growing Up Fast was published by Bantam Press. The book caused controversy because of his criticism of England manager Fabio Capello, whom he describes as “cold and clinical”.