Walcott New Season

On this day in 2006, Arsenal signed a highly-rated 16-year-old from Southampton. His name was Theo Walcott.

The fee at the time was £5 million, rising to £12 million. This was later revised and the two clubs came to a compromise of £9.1 million. After initially signing a pre-contract, Walcott signed his first full-professional contract on his 17th Birthday on the 16th March.

It was quite a year for the young lad. After becoming the most expensive 16-year-old in British football, Theo was named in Sven-Göran Eriksson's squad for the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany.

This was to the surprise of everybody as he hadn't even kicked a Premier League ball and was picked ahead of the likes of Darren Bent, who was the top English scorer that season, Andrew Johnson, who had the same accolade the year before and other established strikers in Jermain Defoe and Dean Ashton.

Sven's decision to include the speedy winger-come striker was questioned from the moment he completed his final squad and all throughout the tournament. But it was in England's quarter-final against Portugal where the Swede had his best chance to prove himself right.

In the last minute of extra-time and with the game still goalless, Eriksson had one substitute remaining. He had two options.

1- Chuck the fearless and dangerously quick Walcott on against a tired Portugal side - if it works, great, you're a hero. If it doesn't, well, you were 'wrong' anyway!

Or 2- Throw Jamie Carragher on instead. Unfortunately, the Swede decided on the latter and the Three Lions bowed out after losing on penalties - a shoot-out where Carragher missed England's final spot-kick...

The year would end on a high for Walcott though. After making his Premier League debut against Aston Villa in the first competitive game at the Emirates, a match which saw the forward assist the winning goal for Gilberto, he earned his first start for the Gunners at home to Watford in October. The 17-year-old capped off a fine year by being announced as the BBC's Young Sports Personality of the Year.

In a football world where loyalty has lost it's meaning somewhat, it's worth noting that Theo Walcott is due a testimonial next year... 

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