Arsenal star Theo Walcott has revealed that he turned down a move to Chelsea prior to moving to Southampton as a youngster, as he felt daunted by the Stamford Bridge club.
Quotes in today’s edition of the Daily Mail relay the fact that the speedy winger snubbed a move to Chelsea, instead opting for the south coast club because of their family values. Walcott spent the best part of six years learning his trade at the St. Mary’s Stadium, before being picked up by Arsene Wenger in 2006 when he was just 16.
And, though a large portion of his development as a player has been down to the investment made by the Gunners, Southampton is a club that Walcott holds dear to his heart. As he confirms, he opted for them over the team who are now arguably the biggest in England.
"It was the family nature of Southampton that made me turn down Chelsea as a kid," Walcott explained.
"It was the family nature of Southampton that made me turn down Chelsea as a kid"
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"Stamford Bridge was daunting."
The 25-year-old might wonder how his career would have differed had he chosen a move to west London instead of joining Southampton. At the time Chelsea were in the pre-Roman Abramovich phase and so their dreams of dominance in English football wouldn’t have been nearly as concrete as they became in the years shortly following.
However, given that they’ve since become perennial league challengers, and won the Champions League and Europa League too boot, Walcott might just feel a tinge of regret at not having taken a gamble.
Though he has become a fan favourite at Arsenal - a consequence of the amount of time he’s spent there - his major trophy haul can be measured as just one F.A Cup, secured last season against Hull City.
What’s more the last year or so he’s been fighting to regain fitness, having suffered a long-term knee injury in an F.A Cup clash against Tottenham in January. He returned during the 2-1 defeat against Swansea City yesterday afternoon, but it’s fair to predict it will still be a while yet before he’s fully match-fit.
There are also growing rumours over his long-term future at Arsenal, with Italian outfit Fiorentina the latest club to be linked with a move for his services. His £100,000-a-week wages could prove a stumbling block concerning that batch of speculation, but it must be said that he has yet to fulfil the huge potential he promised upon signing for the club eight years ago.