Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini named Arsenal man Theo Walcott as his favourite England player and warned his team-mates about the forward’s “terrifying pace”, according to the Mirror.
England travel to Italy to take on the side that has dented their chances in the last two major tournaments as Roy Hodgson’s side crashed out of Euro 2012 and the World Cup in disappointing fashion.
Walcott wasn’t available when the two sides met in Brazil and according to Chiellini, his absence is greatly felt by the the Three Lions.
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“I am always a fan of Walcott, a quick sprinter and terrifying for defenders,” he said (via Mirror Football).
“England notice his absence. For the world of football, it is positive that Walcott recuperates totally to his top level.”
Walcott is one of the players at the top level who divides opinion more than most, but you cannot argue with his pedigree which is evident by the adulation he receives across Europe.
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When Fabio Capello left Walcott at home ahead of the World Cup in 2010, our no.14 received support from no other than Argentine hero Lionel Messi.
“I must say that at the time I thought it was a bad decision to leave Theo Walcott at home, and I think that has been proved right,” Messi said after England’s exit in South Africa (via ESPN).
“I can only speak from experience but he was one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against.”
Walcott has had his back against the wall on many occasions throughout his short career and given his mental strength, he is no doubt set for a big return.
The flyer got a 13 minute run-out versus Lithuania on Friday evening, and it would be no surprise to see him starting against Antonio Conte’s men.