Theo Walcott retires from professional football

Theo Walcott celebrates scoring for Arsenal

Theo Walcott has announced his retirement from professional football aged 34.

Our former winger spent 12 years with us after signing from Southampton in January 2006 and went on to make 397 appearances in our colours, scoring 108 goals, and went on to also represent Everton before returning to the Saints last season.

He was part of our 2015 and 2017 FA Cup-winning teams and scored the opening goal in the 2015 triumph over Aston Villa.

Writing on Instagram, Theo said: "The first moment I put my football boots on aged 10 was a special journey for me. From playing in the park with friends to performing in some of the biggest stadiums in front of huge crowds across the world.

"The support shown to me throughout this time has been incredible and in every way imaginable I am truly grateful. I shared the football pitch with so many incredible players and we have created so many unforgettable memories.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to all the managers and coaches that I've worked with, especially Harry [Redknapp] for giving me a start and Arsene [Wenger] for showing the belief and supporting me when I joined the club at only 16 years old. Over 18 fantastic years in the Premier League, there are so many moments I will cherish.

"The early days at Southampton Football Club, my transfer to Arsenal where I spent 12 enjoyable years and scored over 100 goals, winning the FA Cup and scoring in the final which is every kid's dream. To have had the opportunity to represent England 47 times and to go to the World Cup in 2006 aged just 17 and still to hold the record for the youngest-ever debut by a senior England player and the youngest hat-trick goalscorer at 19 - I will never forget that feeling.

"I'm lucky enough to have had offers to continue playing but it feels right to finish where I started and hang up my football boots. Thank you to everyone who has been with me along the way."

Theo made his debut for us in August 2006, coming on as a substitute against Aston Villa in the first match of the season and made an immediate impact, teeing up Gilberto for a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw in what was the first official game at Emirates Stadium.

Theo scored his first goal for the club in the 2007 League Cup final against Chelsea and became only the 18th player in our history to hit 100 goals when he netted in a 2-0 win over Sutton United in the FA Cup back in February 2017.

In May 2006, Theo became England’s youngest-ever senior player, making his debut aged 17 years and 75 days against Hungary. During his time at Arsenal, he played regularly for the Three Lions, making 47 appearances and scoring eight goals in a decade with the national team.

Everyone at Arsenal wishes Theo well in retirement.

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