Theo Walcott has spoken out about his private conversation with Gunners legend Thierry Henry while the Frenchman trained in North London recently.
The Englishman is leading the Arsenal goal scoring chart this season, and is well worth a punt for golden boot.
But despite his hot scoring streak, the 23-year-old admitted he struggled with the pressure involved during the contract negotiations that almost condemned him to departing Arsenal with his former deal set to expire this summer, however a one-on-one chat with Henry helped to put things into perspective for the winger-come-striker.
Walcott asked Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer for some advice which turned into a lengthy, private talk, he told The Mirror:
We had a good hour and a half in a room together and we chatted about a lot. It’s probably the best hour and half I’ve ever had.
I just went up to him. I didn’t expect an hour and half to be honest. But I’m glad it was that long.
Thierry was always going to have a good chat. It was about all sorts of stuff in a private room at the training ground and that was a good thing, so it wasn’t like anyone else could see. It meant a lot.
To have someone with that much experience to talk about not just yourself but what he had to deal with means you learn a lot.
It was a shame he had to go back so early, to be honest. But when you’re learning from the likes of that it’s only going to make you get better.
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I’ll keep it between me and him but I’ve taken it all in. I always listen to people but when it’s my hero I listen extra hard.
The England international also admitted how the contract negotiations played on his mind even as the talks came close to completion such as during the recent Swansea fixture. He continued:
It was a difficult process throughout the whole period. I was not starting a lot of games at the start of the season, it was difficult but I was reacting the right way.
But the last three weeks before it happened, was probably the hardest. It was on my mind too much. It was very difficult. At times it was putting off my game, it might not have shown, but it definitely did.
There was a game against Swansea when I missed a lot of chances, scuffed them. It was too much on my mind, too much to bear, throughout the whole year from the summer onwards.
Thankfully I got through that and can now concentrate. I believe in the team. That’s the main thing.
I’ve still a lot to learn, a lot to prove, a lot to do. I know that. I’m not going to let anyone take me off my track.
But I know I have to do what I do for Arsenal for England. I want to do well. I’m not focused on the past. I want to think about Wednesday. It is massive.
Thierry Henry has again shown Gooners what a legend he is and what massive influence he has with the club. Whether it was Wenger’s suggestion or not to speak personally with Walcott, the French striker would have helped to convince him into extending his stay at the club.
The Englishman is following a similar path to Henry who also made a slow transition from winger to centre forward, and now the most important part for Walcott is to now have patience, keep performing at a top level on the wing and improve keeping the ball with his back to goal, then he will have many of the ingredients necessary to play as a central striker. People forget he is only 23 (24 next month), and he is starting to show his class and importance to the Gunners with 18 goals to his name this season.