Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott has “a special destiny” in the game.
The forward is in line to make his 300th appearance for Arsenal when Sunderland visit Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.
After missing almost a year through injury, Walcott's attitude since his return has impressed his manager.
“Theo is in line to make his 300th Arsenal appearance, which is amazing because he played from a very young age,” Wenger told the matchday programme. “That explains why he’s played so many games.
“He came here at the age of 17 and has a special destiny. Theo went to the  World Cup without playing in the Premier League and then he missed the last World Cup because he was not available.
“It’s a strange fate. He has had an extraordinary career with some big setbacks, but he has recovered very well over time.
“I believe that he has a great mentality, a strong personality as well. He has developed well as a player because today he is a great finisher.
“He has certainly got one of the best qualities in the world, which is the timing of his runs off the ball - they are top quality. He also has exceptional pace, which he links with a great intelligence.”
Wenger was pleased with Walcott’s cameo performance at Manchester United on Sunday but stressed that it takes time to fully recover from a serious injury.
“Theo is fresh, he showed that at Old Trafford, but I think people underestimate how much time it takes when you have been out for a year,” the boss said. “People think you turn up and you play again like you did before, but it is not like that.
“It’s a question of patience and using him well at the right moment.”
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