Arsenal star Theo Walcott hung up on England boss Gareth Southgate in fury after World Cup rejection
Theo Walcott remains the youngest ever footballer to play for England but felt he was due more caps in the 2018 World Cup.
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Arsenal legend Theo Walcott admitted to furiously hanging up the phone on Gareth Southgate after being left out of the England squad for the World Cup in 2018.
The winger today announced his retirement from professional football and reflected on his career in a tell-all interview with Manchester United star Gary Neville on The Overlap.
Walcott last played for England in a friendly against Spain in 2016 but felt should have been in the squad for the World Cup in France.
The forward spent the opening half of the 2017/18 season out of the squad at Arsenal but broke back into the side in January. In the final few months of the season, Walcott scored three goals and three assists for the Gunners.
It wasn't enough to convince Southgate that the former wonderkid deserved a place in the side and Walcott reflected on taking that news with rage when the England boss called.
Walcott told Neville: “I remember my conversation with Gareth Southgate, when he told me I wasn’t going to be in the squad [for World Cup 2018].
"He told me the reasons why, that I wasn’t playing enough, and I came back to him with some stats. I told him that I was the third-highest English goal scorer behind Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli at the time and that I played more minutes than he thought, and then hung up.
“I do regret that because I look back now and think about what Gareth has done for the team – it’s amazing.”
Walcott made his debut for England in 2006 at the tender age of 16 and remains the youngest-ever player to be capped in the national side's first team.
The star, who was released by Southampton following their relegation from the Premier League last season, reflected on his rise to stardom and the negative impact that being thrust into the limelight had on him and his family.
Walcott said: “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, everything was very magnified, I look back now I was 16/17 with the ‘WAGs’ label and I was right involved in it and didn’t know what to do because I was so young and so out of place.
"When I joined Arsenal, I was out of place as well, being young, walking into the dressing room with Sol Campbell, Thierry [Henry], Jens [Lehmann].
“That era was more of people following Mel, even causing car accidents to get pictures of me and her together, we were 16/17-year-olds.
“I had to just deal with it and get on with it, and essentially, I had to use football for that. I look back and think – Mel for instance – she didn’t have that distraction I suppose, so it’s interesting to look back.”