Arsenal legend Theo Walcott picks retirement over following Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool stars to Saudi Arabia
Arsenal and Premier League legend Theo Walcott has today announced his retirement from football at the age of 34.
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Arsenal legend Theo Walcott has announced his retirement from football, choosing to hang up his boots over accepting offers to play in Saudi Arabia.
The 34-year-old was released from Southampton after the club's relegation from the Premier League last season and Walcott had been linked with several moves to Championship and League One sides this summer.
Speaking exclusively to Gary Neville on The Overlap, Walcott has now confirmed that he will be walking away from the game to focus on time with his family and a future career as a pundit.
Walcott said: “I’m officially going to be hanging up my boots. It’s very scary, I can’t lie. It’s scary because football’s all I’ve known, from the age of 16 or even younger. I want to try new things – I never experienced
certain things when I was a kid because I was thrust into some world without a choice.
"It was just beyond talent and hunger, and I missed out on a lot. I’m not saying I’m going to be doing some mad stuff, but I feel like I want to experience life, you know?
"Everything has revolved around football for me, and now it [still] does, but it can also look somewhere else as well.”
Walcott made 567 club appearances over an 18-year career which included winning two FA Cups with Arsenal and the BBC Young Personality of the Year in 2006. The winger became England's youngest-ever senior footballer at the age of 17 in 2006 and scored 80 goals along with 64 assists in 397 top flight matches.
Much of the star's career was blighted with injury struggles and at the age of 34, Walcott has previously shared his desire to keep playing football ahead of the upcoming season.
On The Overlap, the star admitted that, like many players, he had received offers from Saudi Arabia this summer but explained that wasn't a move that felt right for him. Over the past year players including Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool winger Sadio Mane, Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez and Chelsea goalkeeper Benjamin Mendy have all moved to the Middle Eastern country.
Walcott said: “I had some offers abroad, and at some very good Championship teams. There’s been some Saudi offers, but that’s not where I want to see myself playing.
"Nothing against the money or the league – I just feel like right now if my heart’s not into playing football, then it’s not fair on the clubs and not fair on me. I’m not going to earn myself a contract when I’m not going to be putting 100% - it just doesn’t sit pretty with me."