Arsene Wenger has revealed what helped Theo Walcott turn his career around.
The winger has had a couple of poor seasons in recent years which has pushed him to the periphery of the English national team plans.
His patchy form also threatened to end his time at the Emirates as he was linked with a number of clubs in the just concluded summer transfer window.
Wenger was believed to have been open to the idea of selling him at first but later reversed his decision after holding talks with the player in which he insisted on staying to fight for his future at the club.
The winger now looks like a different man this season after netting his fourth goal in three games in the Champions League clash against Basel on Wednesday and Wenger has revealed that it is his pep talk with the forward after he missed out on the Euro 2016 squad that has changed his career.
Walcott now takes his duties seriously and has improved the defensive side of his game with the pacy forward also looking dangerously sharp in front of goal.
Arsenal travel to Burnley this Sunday and Walcott – just as many popular bookmakers such as Guts.com sportsbook has been tipped to lead the Gunners to a fourth consecutive Premier League win.
The 27 year old knows he is running out of time to play in a major tournament for England and he is keen to resurrect his international career so he can play in the next World Cup.
Wenger said: “I think he used to be 90 percent forward and 10 percent defending. Today he is 50-50. He does the job both ways and he does it both ways with commitment.
“I always felt there is character and intelligence in this boy. What was a big blow for him was not to go to the Euros.
“He is a guy with a good assessment of his performances and qualities. I said many times at the start of the season that we would see a different Theo Walcott.
“I could see he made a decision and sticks to it. I spoke to him, yes, about the disappointment of not going with England. He is a special case. He went at 17 to the World Cup.
“We are now at 2016 and he hasn’t been to another World Cup. But he has matured. When a player survives this type of disappointment from what was promised for him at 17.
“The way he dealt with the situation I always felt there was something special in this guy. He is intelligent, Theo. He assesses well his own performances. He is 27, it’s a very important age.”
The forward has already scored three league goals this season and has played some of his best football in recent years this season. Should he add consistency to his game, he will be a key player for the team this year.