Abuse from Arsenal fans wasn't fair but now I know how to deal with it, says Walcott
10:03 GMT, 20 April 2013
10:04 GMT, 20 April 2013
Winger Theo Walcott has revealed that he has received plenty of abuse during his time at Arsenal, but that he has learnt to avoid it all as he continues to mature.
The 24-year-old's future was in doubt at the beginning of the season, but he signed a new 100,000-a-week deal in January to end speculation he might leave the Emirates.
His form has varied over the past few season between being at the fore of the Gunners' attack and going missing in games.
Why bother Theo Walcott says that he avoids message boards and Twitter criticism
Bruised: Walcott got a battering on the pitch against Everton as he felt the force of their midfield
Walcott says he didn't feel like the criticism he got was justified: 'Last year against Tottenham in the first half, I got a lot of abuse from the fans, which wasn't fair,' he said to The Times.
'I'm sure they would be nice to my face. People always are nice when they meet you. They would come up to me and say, ''We hope you stay, but respect your decision.''
His desire to play a more central role in Arsenal's front three is no secret, and Arsene Wenger has used him to spearhead the attack on several occasions, most notably when they beat Newcastle 7-3 and Walcott scored a hat-trick.
Taking the full force: Walcott has had his fair share of knocks against Spurs
He has learnt to take the good with the bad, however, and says he now knows to keep his distance from some fans' opinions.
'It's only on message boards or Twitter and stuff – or when it's in a crowd – that it turns nasty, and that's why I avoid all that stuff.'
Along with Jack Wilshere, Walcott has been injured for the past month, and is raring to get back into the thick of the action.
He started their 0-0 draw with Everton and will hope to feature again as Arsenal travel across london to play Fulham.
Incensed: Arsene Wenger was angry with what he felt was over-physical play from Everton
But it's not always been so easy for Walcott to muster the confidence that he deserves to be on the pitch.
After being thrown into the spotlight in 2006 when Sven-Goran Eriksson picked him for England's World Cup squad, he found it hard to live up to early expectations.
'At times, with myself maybe, I haven't believed how good I am. People around me, my agent, my dad, say that to me sometimes. I think that might be the case.'
Just as with Gareth Bale, another former Southampton youngster, it took Walcott several years to justify his big money move.
But now a regular in the side, and with Wenger saying he will spend in the summer, both his and the club's future may be going in the right direction.
Recovering: Along with Jack Wilshere, Walcott is just getting back to full fitness after several weeks out