By Richard Clarke
Theo Walcott claims his new-found fame has not changed his life but it has had an effect on the defenders who mark him.
The 19-year-old winger has always been high profile. His Southampton debut, his acquisition by Arsenal, his World Cup call up and his assist against Liverpool were all headline stories BEFORE he hit that hat-trick against Croatia. However his England exploits have certainly opened up the frontiers of his fame.
Walcott came in for ‘special treatment’ in Kiev on Wednesday. His manager criticised the referee Luis Medina Cantalejo in Arsenal’s opening Group G game for not taking a stronger against his marker.
However Walcott himself seemed pretty happy about the reasons behind those strong-arm tactics.
“It is a nice feeling when a defender is scared of you,” he said afterwards. “It always puts a smile on your face. It means you will hopefully win the battle with him. I got kicked a few times but you just have to win the battle with them. You just have to suck it up and get back at them.”
And as for the off-the-pitch effects of Theo’s trio, the youngster appears to have taken it all in his stride.
“It has not really touched me,” he went on. “It has [affected] more the family than me. We have had a few paparazzi outside the house but I have just got away from it. I have been training well and really just trying to take each game as it comes. That is all I can do.
“I just love playing. I mean playing for Arsenal at 19 is a dream come true and starting in Champions League is brilliant.
“I just want to play well for Club and country now.”Copyright 2014 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 19 Sep 2008