Theo Walcott says his increasingly sporadic involvement in the Arsenal first team caused him to fall out of love with football a bit, but he’s rekindled that since his £20m move to Everton last January.
The former England international joined the Gunners in 2006, at the time a symbol of what Arsene Wenger wanted to achieve at the club: the development of exciting young talent, but over time injuries hampered that, and although he scored over 100 goals he became something of a poster boy for the decline.
The 29 year old returns to the Emirates on Sunday for the second time since his departure, and he told Sky Sports that it was tough to say goodbye.
“I’m not going to lie, I fell out of love with football for a little bit,” he told former Arsenal Women legend Alex Scott.
“Because I had some good performances, but then just didn’t get the chance to play on.
“Scoring over 100 goals for Arsenal is a great achievement for me personally, and then just the last year-and-a-half was tough, I can’t lie.
“It was really tough, not being able to get into the team, being in and out. I just felt I wanted to get the excitement of football again.
“I didn’t feel like it was going to be at Arsenal then.”
On his previous return, Everton got smashed 5-1, but Walcott believes it will be a different proposition on Sunday.
“It was so surreal, it really was,” he said of facing his former side at home.
“Being at Arsenal for so long, going back, I’d only just left as well. The fans were fantastic with me, they always have been. It just felt like I was a little bit still there, it was so soon.
“But this will be completely different. I’m really excited, I really am. Just to see where we’re at with them.
“I really feel like we’re in a good place.”