Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott’s “humble” nature helped him deal with the pressure that fell on his shoulders in the early days of his career.
The Arsenal forward celebrates 10 years at the club next week, having gone on to establish himself as a regular for club and country.
“He went straight to the World Cup, without having played a Premier League game,” the manager said. “It could have gone both ways and the credit I have to give to him is that he dealt very well with that early fame and always kept his feet on the ground, was always very humble and receptive to advice.
“He had ups and downs, because he had bad injuries. That made him much stronger mentally and today I believe that he has become much more of a team player, conscious of his contribution to the teamwork.
“His basic strengths are still there. What I liked when I saw him first was his movement off the ball. [He is] one of the few strikers who has good movement off the ball.
“The timing is right, the areas where he goes, the quality of his reception is very good. He has developed very well as at technical player, as a team player. Today he is a much better finisher, much better in assists than he was before and much more reliable in his teamwork.
“The next four or five years will be absolutely decisive for him because that’s where you make your career, between 26 and 31, 32. That’s where a good player becomes a great player or just remains a good player.”
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