By Chris Harris
Theo Walcott took inspiration from an unlikely source as Arsenal emerged triumphant from a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Rome.
The 19-year-old converted the third of his team's eight spot-kicks before Roma's Max Tonetto fired over the crossbar to seal a 7-6 sudden-death victory at the Stadio Olimpico.
Like many of his team-mates, last night was Walcott's first experience of a shoot-out at the top level but the wise words of a former Southampton team-mate carried him through.
"I had a dry throat going towards the goal but I didn't look at the goalkeeper once," explained Walcott after the game. "I learned that from James Beattie.
"He's probably one of the best penalty takers I have seen. I have watched him over the years and mine wasn't as good a penalty as his but they all count.
"I didn't want the goalkeeper to make eye contact with me because sometimes they might put you off a little bit. Plus he was a big lad. It's all about positive thinking and it counted in the end.
"To be fair, it was a really good experience for me. It was the first penalty shoot-out I have ever done."
Walcott admitted that Arsenal had not made a point of practising penalties ahead of the second leg. Instead, they relied on character to haul themselves back into contention after Doni had pushed aside Eduardo's spot-kick at the start of the shoot-out.
"To do it on penalties for such a young team who haven't experienced that, it just shows the character we have got in the whole side," he said.
"I didn't expect to take the third penalty but the boss has faith in all of us. That definitely showed in the penalty takers tonight. He told me I was third and I am not going to say no. I just wanted to get up there and see what would happen.
"We didn't practice them at all - we thought we could get the result. But it doesn't matter how they go in and it was like we had just won the World Cup Final in the dressing room after the game.
"The atmosphere was brilliant. Even though there are all sorts of nationalities in there, we all get along and we are like a family in there. It's just a brilliant bunch of lads to play with."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source