The beautiful game is forever evolving and over the last few years pace and blistering speed has been a key element. Enter Theo Walcott the 23-year old Arsenal prodigy, all eyes have been on him since joining the Red Army in 2006 from Southampton at such a young age. Since then he’s been an integral part to Arsenal and the England squad with his growing confidence in the front four and, more importantly, his quick fire pace that would strike fear to even the most steel hardened defenders. So it’s only right that Nike have linked up with the right-winger as the face of the new Green Speed II (GSII) football boots. Made out of a recycled materials these are the lightest football boots out today and are focused on mobility and speed, which is an important aspect of Walcott’s game. We sat down with the Arsenal and England International star to get his thoughts on how Nike’s new boots compliment his style of play, his career so far and who exactly is the worst dressed in the Arsenal dressing room.
Jerry Gadiano / You were thrust unto the stage at a very young age, you signed with Arsenal when you were still a teenager and then you get called to the England Squad for the World Cup in Germany in 2006. How did you deal with all of that?
Theo Walcott / I think I had to grow very fast to be honest. I’ve always been grateful that my family has looked after me but once that hits you, having Arsenal being interested in yourself and walking into the dressing room of the top Arsenal players, ‘The Invincibles’ basically, it was pretty nerve racking but also exciting because I knew I was meant to be here. The boss believed in me and brought me in at such a young age and it’s definitely helped me develop into the player that I am now without a doubt. Then you get called up for England to The World Cup with not even playing a game, again it’s definitely helped me out because it’s all about getting the experience going to stadiums like when we played Schalke a few weeks back in the Champions League. That was the same stadium where Rooney was sent off, I was there.
JG / How did you cope with all the attention that was being paid to you at the time?
TW / You know what? I didn’t even listen to any of it, I really didn’t. I just listened to the right people behind me like my family. I knew there was going to be positives and negatives around it all and I didn’t want that being in my mind to be honest. The manger wanted me there and he wanted me to be fully committed, so those side of things I didn’t bother taking too much interest in it but the people who did support me I thank them quite a lot.
JG / It must’ve felt anti-climatic the fact that you didn’t get to play a game whilst out in Germany?
TW / Yeah, you always feel that being on the bench you want to show people what you can do but the manager made that decision and it wasn’t meant to be. But if I didn’t have that experience I wouldn’t be the player that I am now.
JG / When you weren’t picked to go to South Africa did it knock your confidence?
TW / No, not at all and you can see that the following season. You want to show people that you don’t want that to ever happen again. I’ve got to admit it obviously hurt a lot when I got that phone call, at the time it’s difficult to cope with. But it’s about how you react in a positive way and not putting blame on anyone or pointing finger at anyone, you got to look at yourself. The following season I got 13 goals and 14-15 assists, being a winger that wants to be a striker that’s the way to answer people.
JG / Well you dodged a bullet by not playing in the England vs. Germany game I guess?
TW / Well no you still want to be part of the team, maybe being there it might have been different you never know.
JG / Do you think you have proven critics wrong during your career so far?
TW / I don’t listen to critics, the most important people in my life to listen to are the people that look after me like my family, my coaches and my teammates. Good or bad press I never really take too much notice of it because you know yourself how good you’ve done.. You know yourself if you’ve had a bad game or a good game without a doubt.
JG / What elements of your game have evolved and grown over time?
TW / I think the way I’m playing together with players. My finishing has always been there but with limited chances at times I mange to take it. I think stats-wise in the last few years it’s been very positive with the goals. I got ten this season even though I haven’t played as much as I’ve wanted to. I always set targets at the start of the season as well, I wanted to get 15-20 goals and I’ve got 10 already so I’m nearly there and I’ll keep on going like I always have. It’s definitely a good step every year.
JG / How important is it that Nike design and produce the right type of boot for your game? How have they played a part in your game and career so far?
TW / Well it’s the most important thing and the boots are the most important thing in a relationship in your footballing career, if it’s not right for you it’s not going to work. These boots (GSII) are absolutely perfect for me, they’re light which is the main thing, it makes me quicker as and it uses recycled material, which is obviously going to help the world. It’s definitely great to be part of it because I’m a quick player and it looks like a running boot at times. When you are scoring goals in them you don’t want to change anything.
JG / How do the GSII’s compare to other boots that you’ve worn in the past?
TW / Well I’ve always been a Vapour man, I remember just a week before Nike offered me a deal, I was wearing the very first Vapours. It’s a shame that they didn’t come in a week before to save my mum and dad a hundred quid [laughs]. But like I said it’s very important to me how light they are, and the GSII’s makes you feel like there’s nothing on your feet.
JG / How long does it take to get used to a new boot model?
TW / It will take sometime; you need to give it a week or two to try it out. I haven’t tried it out on the pitch yet but in training it’s absolutely fine so it’s just about performance in it..
JG / How important is it the way you present yourself both on the pitch and of the pitch?
TW / Well if you ask anyone that knows me, I’m just a normal guy. I don’t treat anyone differently it’s just the way I am and I’ve been brought up in that way. I’m the youngest in my family but I think its the people I meet as well, they always help me out. But personally I’m just a normal person I just get on with my life.
JG / Who’s had the biggest influence on your career so far?
TW / I think my dad to be fair, he’s always been there for me. When I moved to Arsenal he came up there and he lived with me in my flat, I wouldn’t have a clue with what I was doing otherwise. And not just that but all the games he used to take me to, he used to record my games and the great thing about him as well is he never put pressure me and that’s the main thing. You see some dads and they’re shouting from the sidelines at their son and that’s not the way it works now, that’s not the way it should be. You want to make sure you enjoy it and he definitely made me do that.
JG / What are your goals for Arsenal this year? What do you hope to accomplish with the team this year?
TW / The most important thing is trophies, I know it’s been a long season and it’s been the same sort of stuff but you’ll only be judged on that. For me personally like I said I want to get in between 15-20 goals and play as a striker as well, that’s another big thing for me. But trophies is the main priority for me without a doubt.
JG / Has been a hard adjustment for the team with so many players constantly coming and going from the club? This year you’ve seen Robin Van Persie and Alex Song leave.
TW / When you get new players in it’s always going to take time and to be fair they’ve settled in very well. When you lose top class players it’s always going to unbalance the team but we’re starting to pick up our feet now. It’s been up and down at times but it’s going to be like that, it’s not perfect for every team the whole season and I’d give it another few games and we’ll be running right. If we perform like we did against Tottenham every week I’m sure we’ll be fine.
JG / Let’s talking about fashion, how serious are you about your own style?
TW / Yeah I’m alright, I’m not bad… I’m pretty decent, minus the ‘tash I suppose [laughs]. I like to just be casual really. I wouldn’t want to say I keep up-to-date all the time but you don’t want be behind either. I’m like anyone else if I see anything nice on the street I’m going to get it I suppose. When Johan Djourou came in training years ago he had some nice jeans on and I actually bought that the following week. But Nike as well have gone into the range of ‘not just sport stuff’, stuff that looks like it’s not Nike but it is.
JG / Who are the best and worse dressed players at Arsenal?
TW / The best dressed I’d probably say Johan, everyone’s great but he comes in it’s something special, something different at times, which is a bit unusual but it suits him. Worst dressed it’s probably Arshavin, I think – and this might be really harsh – he might dress in the dark or he might not be able to reach trainers at times [laughs]. We always wind him up about it and he loves it. He does come in with some good stuff at times and there times when he comes in with some rascal gear and you think “where have you got that from?”.
JG / Kieran Gibbs has gone on record to saying you’re the best on FIFA in the Arsenal dressing room. You agree with him?
TW / I agree with him, cheers Kieran. Yeah I’m not bad and the thing about it is I don’t play as much as them and that makes it a bit more special because they play it all the time and when I turn up and pick a random team and I can take them down.
JG / Is there anyone coming close to taking your crown?
TW / Chambo’s [Alex-Oxalde chamberlain) not bad, Gibbo’s quite good, Vito Mannone is good but you can wind him up very easily and I always talk during FIFA and he hates it.
JG / How about outside of Arsenal?
TW / I used to play a bit, Daniel Sturridge he plays quite a lot and he’s not bad. I play a lot with Andy Carroll, Joleon Lescott and Adam Johnson on international break. A lot of the guys play and because it’s a similar age group a lot us enjoy it. Andy Carroll I would recommend playing because he’s not the greatest.
JG / I’ve also heard you’re a keen golfer, do you still find time to do it?
TW / Yeah I’m not bad I’ve never had any lessons so I’ve taught myself. I’m playing under 12 at the moment, I’m probably better actually. I haven’t played for a while, it depends on the football but it does relax me walking around or driving in the buggy with your mates. There’s a bit of a healthy competition as well.
JG / You get to visit a lot of countries as both an England international and as an Arsenal player. What are your favourite places you’ve been to?
TW / When we went to the Bernebau and Thierry Henry scored that famous goal that was quite special. The Nou Camp stands out without any doubt, coming off a very positive result at The Emirates, 2-2 scoring as well, and going there and having one of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi, give me so much credit about how dangerous I was that meant so much to me coming from him. I setup a Nicholas Bentdner goal at the time and then Messi just stole show like he always does and showed what quality actually is.
Nike’s lightest, fastest and greenest production boot featuring ACC for enhanced ball control in both wet and dry conditions. For more information nikestore.com