Wenger warns not to expect too much from Walcott
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned not to expect too much too soon from starlet Theo Walcott after he became the youngest player to score a hat-trick for England.
The 19-year-old Gunners forward scored his three goals as England handed Croatia their first defeat in a competitive match at home since 1991, humbling them 4-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.
But Walcott's club boss has told England fans that the £12million striker's exploits were a 'one-off' and not to expect a repeat of his heroics from the Maksimir Stadium.
"What happened you have to consider to be an exception," Wenger said. "Even for players of 25, 26, to score three goals in an international is a one-off.
"But what is very good is that he has the confidence of [Fabio] Capello and he is playing at that level at 19."
What impressed Wenger most was Walcott's measured reaction to his outstanding achievement. The former Southampton star insisted he would pay no attention to the praise that came his way and would instead focus on improving in every training session.
"That shows he is clever, well-balanced, feet on earth," Wenger said.
"Straight away after the game he analysed the consequences of what happened to him. That is more important for his career than the three goals he scored - that is a great sign of intelligence and maturity."
Walcott has been slow to progress since his £12million move from Championship side Southampton to Arsenal in January 2006, but Wenger earmarked this season as the coming of age for the youngster.
He has played in every game for Arsenal so far this campaign and has certainly made a name for himself on the international stage.
Wenger said: "At the start of the season Theo had made a step forward and you could see that in training.
"Theo has become more of a man and more mature in his game, developed his link play, his first touch, his commitment - and there is still a lot to come from 19 to 23 years old.''