Theo Walcott has revealed his excitement at playing against former mentor Thierry Henry in the Emirates Cup but admitted that he has rarely had the chance to talk with the Frenchman since he left Arsenal in 2007.
Henry took the Southampton protégé under his wing when he moved to Highbury as a 16-year-old at a time when many predicted the young England winger to be a potential long-term challenger to his record-breaking Gunners scoring tally.
While Walcott has shown flashes of brilliance during his five years in North London he has yet to shake off persistent injury problems or find the penalty box consistency which made Henry one of the most exciting players of his generation.
Reflecting on his relationship with the Gallic great, Walcott told Arsenal.com: “He’s been a great influence to me so it will be nice to see his face.
“I think he changes his phone number a lot so it’s tough to keep in touch with him! So many people want a bit of him but he will always be there for me, definitely.
“Thierry has always given me advice, telling me just to enjoy my football and not believe what people say about you. He told me just to go out and play my football and not worry about the hype. That’s what I’ve been doing and hopefully it’s working.”
While Walcott readies himself for a reunion with his old mentor, the 22-year-old also took the time to analyse the qualities shown by Arsene Wenger’s latest wing acquisition; 18-year-old Japanese starlet Ryo Miyaichi.
“I don’t like comparing myself to other players, every player is different. He wants to be his own player, he is a confident lad and will hopefully have a good career at Arsenal.
“He has got a few stepovers more than me, I don’t do any! That is maybe something I could bring into my game.
Miyaichi, who spent six months on loan at Dutch side Feyenoord earlier in the year, has yet to secure a work permit allowing him to play for Arsenal in the Premier League. However, after a noteworthy debut for the Gunners against Malaysia on the recent pre-season tour of Asia, excitement has already mounted about the winger’s raw speed.
Recognising the challenge to his status as the club’s fastest player, Walcott continued: “If I don’t come top [of the speed tests in pre-season] I’m not bothered because the most important thing is doing it on the pitch. But it will be tough to beat me, that is for sure!”