Crediting his career to the upbringing he enjoyed at Southampton, the returning Theo Walcott is hoping to act as a role model for those looking to follow in his footsteps.
Walcott, now 31, burst onto the scene at St Mary’s as a 16-year-old in 2005 and became the club’s youngest-ever goal scorer, earning a move to Arsenal where he went on to make 397 appearances.
Now returning to where it all began on a season-long loan from Everton, the academy graduate is looking to offer an experienced head in the dressing room.
“There was always a lot of talk from the academy side of things because of how good the academy has been at developing players, and I was one of those lucky ones that managed to get through.
Theo walcotthopefully I can repay all the faith and kindness I had from those days into now.
southampton's new signing
“Now, hopefully I can repay all the faith and kindness I had from those days into now and make this team push on a lot further than they have already.
“The academy side of things was the main thing that attracted me to Southampton as a 10-year-old, and I feel like I made the right decision then and am making the right decision now.
“I’ve always been the person that you can come to me to talk about anything, it doesn’t have to be football related.
“I feel like if you’re working as hard as you can on the training field and people see me working hard, then you can inspire them to compete as well. Hopefully. I can push people on to get them to the next level as well.”
Bringing in Walcott as his fourth summer acquisition, manager Ralph Hasenhüttl is also aware of the benefits of the England international’s experience.
“His experience and influence will also be important for our young players. The idea is not to block their development, but for this to make it faster.
From this professional they can learn and grow as players for the future of our club.”