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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 10, 2006

Walcott reveals faith in 'genius' Wenger

Theo Walcott has every confidence the 'genius' of Arsene Wenger will help mould him into a World Cup star.

The 17-year-old has yet to play a competitive game for Arsenal, but was the shock inclusion in Sven-Goran Eriksson's provisional 23-man England squad for Germany.

Although all parties acknowledge it is something of a gamble, Walcott certainly seems to have a bright future ahead of him.

Wenger had long been an admirer of the former Southampton star, and finally made the Coca-Cola Championship club an offer they could not refuse when agreeing a deal which could eventually cost £12million.

And Walcott firmly believes his future is in safe hands.

He said: 'Arsene Wenger was watching me when I was 14, so that shows the faith he has in me.

'Arsene Wenger rested Cesc Fabregas earlier this season, and look what he has done now, so you can tell what a genius Arsene Wenger is.

'Hopefully he will do that for me, but I have to work hard in every training session.

'Training with world-class players every day, I am only going to improve.

'Watching someone like Thierry Henry, his finishing, is unbelievable.'

The past six months have certainly been a whirlwind experience for the teenager.

However, the young striker is relishing the opportunity and intends to make the most of the chance to learn from the likes of captain David Beckham, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard.

Walcott added: 'It is a dream come true. I did not expect any of this.

'I just want to go training with these players and see how they prepare, to be around those sorts of players to find out what people like Beckham do before games. It is going to be special.

'It will be good for the future to do this early, most players do not get to go to a World Cup. I am the lucky one.'

Walcott did not imagine he would be working alongside the likes of Newcastle striker Owen, who burst onto the scene at the 1998 World Cup in France as a teenager and netted a brilliant goal against Argentina.

'I did not watch the game, but I have seen a clip of it,' he added. 'I cannot remember why I did not see it, it could have been past my bedtime!

'I watched every game of the 2002 World Cup but I could not imagine I would be there in 2006. It is going to be amazing.'

Walcott's inclusion in the England squad may have triggered a media frenzy, but the teenager was oblivious to all the fuss as he was taking his driving theory test at the time.

Although the striker may have to wait for his chance of a first taste of competitive action with both club and country, he is more than happy to bide his time.

He said: 'I am itching to get on most games, but I am going to be here for a long, long time so I just want to improve and hopefully make my name in England.'