The moment Theo Walcott realised he needed to change at Arsenal

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If and when Theo Walcott starts for England in their upcoming World Cup qualifier against Malta, it will signal the next stage in his unlikely comeback from the football wilderness.

Having been left out of Roy Hodgson's Euro 2016 squad, fans wondered whether they would ever see the once prodigious winger add to his 44 international caps.

According to The Telegraph, at the same time Hodgson decided his 23-man team, Walcott was at one of the lowest moments of his career with friends and family concerned he had got himself stuck in an unshakeable rut.

It was a worrying echo of the time he was left out of Fabio Capello's squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but, more concerning, his omission this time around was much less of a surprise even to those around Arsenal's training ground.

Walcott apparently blamed Arsene Wenger, and then Arsenal, for his woes. Whether it was not playing in his desired position or not getting enough minutes, it was easy for the 27-year-old to pass the buck onto someone else.

Defining moment

But there was a particular moment last season that made Walcott stand up and realise that if he was to make a success of his football career it would have to be he who changed. It came during Arsenal's season-defining defeat against Manchester United in February.

The Gunners could have moved within two points of leaders Leicester by beating Louis van Gaal's team at Old Trafford but their defence was undone by two Marcus Rashford goals and Ander Herrera's second-half strike. Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil did their best to mount a comeback but it was no good.

It set the tone for the rest of Arsenal's season and saw Walcott drop out of the team. He was hauled off after 63 minutes after putting in an awful performance. It was one that left Arsene Wenger and his loyal coaches fuming.

The contrast

It was particularly annoying for Wenger, who had seen Walcott play one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt against the same team earlier in the campaign. The former Southampton starlet had been part of a devastating attack that blew United away 3-0. Wenger couldn't believe he was looking at the same player when he failed to perform in the return fixture.

A post-match talk with Walcott made him realise that he would have to change and went about becoming the hardest working player at the club.

Hard work

He now turns up to Arsenal's London Colney on his days off to complete extra gym work, has weekly sessions with the club psychologist David Priestly and hired a personal trainer Bradley Simmonds , who has improved his diet.

The results are clear to see. He is back in the Arsenal team and looking more threatening in front of goal than he has done in years. He already has three Premier League goals to his name, almost matching the five he scored in 28 appearances last season.

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Thierry Henry
England Football
Premier League
Aaron Ramsey
Theo Walcott
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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