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Sep 11, 2008

Hat-trick hero Walcott vows to stay focused

England's hat-trick hero Theo Walcott walked off the pitch at the Maksimir Stadium clutching his hat-trick ball after making history against Croatia and insisted he will not listen to any praise that comes his way.

ENGLAND HAT-TRICK HEROES
September 10 2008
Theo Walcott v Croatia 4-1

September 4 2001
Michael Owen v Germany 5-1

September 4 1999
Alan Shearer
v Luxembourg 6-0

March 27 1999
Paul Scholes v Poland 3-1

November 17 1993
Ian Wright v San Marino 7-1

February 17 1993
David Platt v San Marino 6-0

October 14 1987
Gary Lineker v Turkey 8-0

June 11 1986
Gary Lineker v Poland 3-0

October 16 1985
Gary Lineker v Turkey 5-0

November 14 1984
Bryan Robson v Turkey 8-0

December 15 1982
Luther Blissett
v Luxembourg 9-0

April 16 1975
Malcom MacDonald
v Cyprus 5-0

World Cup 1966
Geoff Hurst
v West Germany 4-2


The 19-year-old was the architect of England's 4-1 win in Croatia - the host's first ever defeat in a competitive home game - to put Fabio Capello's team in pole position as they bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

The Arsenal teenager will return to England to a hero's welcome, but the country's youngest ever scorer of a hat-trick will remain focused on improving his game.

Walcott said: "I know what people will be saying about me but I will just be ignoring it and keep taking positives from the game.

"My family and friends have brought me up well, look after me and help keep my feet on the ground. That's what I've always been like and I won't change at all.

"I'm still trying to improve every training session I have and that's all I can do".

Walcott also revealed that a pep-talk from David Beckham, the man he has replaced on England's right flank, helped him score his three goals.

"At half-time David Beckham said to me, 'Be a bit more greedy and you'll get goals', but at the end he said maybe I'd been a bit too greedy," Walcott said.

"He's been absolutely brilliant to me, which is great. I grew up watching him and to be around him and to train with him is fantastic. To talk to him just spurs you on."

The youngster also revealed that he had considered changing his boots at the break because one of his studs had disintegrated but in the end decided to stick with the footwear that had delivered his first England goal.

"There was no way I was going to change them," he said. "The stud had basically just fallen to pieces. That's why I finished the third goal with my left."

Wayne Rooney, who scored the other goal in the 4-1 win in Zagreb, led the tributes to Walcott, who was famously taken to the World Cup in 2006 but not used.

"He offers something a bit different. He is probably the quickest player I have seen," Rooney said.

'Sven-Goran Eriksson saw the talent in him in selecting him for the 2006 World Cup. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster for him the last two years."

Rooney also admitted, after two defeats to Croatia cost England a place at Euro 2008, that victory felt all the more sweeter.

"It was a bit of revenge. It was a great performance and a great result," he added.

"You always enjoy a 4-1 victory, especially after what Croatia did to us in the last qualifying campaign."

Walcott made his first England start at the weekend when he was selected against Andorra.

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