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Walcott lays a wreath on Armistice Day

Theo Walcott lays a remembrance wreath

Theo Walcott was among the England players who laid a wreath at the National Memorial Arboretum as the national team paid its respects on Armistice Day.

Roy Hodgson's squad ended a training session with a two-minute silence in tribute to the servicemen and women killed in action since the First World War.

Read on for a Q&A with Theo.

Theo, do you feel that football brings people together and helps to remember the fallen soldiers?

It does. It helps us to remember the sacrifices that all these young adults and families had to make for us to be part of the world today. When I got to learn the stories, especially the Christmas truce, it brings it home to you. It is incredible to think that soldiers played football in the middle of the war when others were fighting. It is interesting that football was so important to people even back then as a way of bringing them together. That is why I wanted to be involved.

Why are you supporting the initiative ‘Football Remembers’ campaign?

It was an honour - particularly to be asked to judge the competition with The Duke of Cambridge and to have a role in choosing the final memorial out of a competition that was open to 30,000 schools. It got rounded down to a shortlist of eight and actually my school, Downs in Newbury, was in the running. So it was tough. I wanted to pick them but I felt Spencer’s design was one that stood out. To have the football design with the Allies and German soldier shaking hands within it was really clever.

How do you think football unites people?

You can always see excitement in people and the passion they have for the game. Football is played around the whole world. Everyone knows what football is. I love the fact my grandad always wants me to do well and always likes to know what is happening in the sporting world. He is 89 but it means so much to him. Things like that show how important football is for all generations and it does bring people together even in difficult times.

 

Theo Walcott at the National Memorial Arboretum

Theo Walcott at the National Memorial Arboretum

 

Did anyone in your family serve in the armed forces?

My dad was in the RAF and my grandad as well. I was brought up in an base in Belgium for a little while. My dad was born in a German base so it has always been part of my life.

What did you used to do at school when you were around 15 or 16 to mark Remembrance Day?

I always remember the poppies and everyone wearing them. We would come out of our lessons and go into the playground and everyone would be there from the whole school. We would do the two-minute silence and that is the one thing that stands out when I look back.

What does Remembrance Day mean to you now?

It is something that everyone should learn about. I will be letting my little boy know what happened when he is old enough. I would like him to understand it which is why the Christmas truce story is so special. Just having a family of my own now makes me think how tough it has been for so many people.

How does it feel to visit the National Memorial Arboretum?

Seeing all the names was pretty emotional. The scariest thing for me was the blank walls [on the Armed Forces Memorial] that will probably have names on at some point. As long as there are conflicts, it will continue to be like this. People will give their lives. It was a powerful moment.

With thanks to the Football Association

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