Sometimes footballers have to make brave choices when it comes to their careers. That is just what Walcott did when leaving Arsenal for Everton this week.
When Walcott joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old, his future was looking likely to be a bright one.
12 years on with over 100 goals for the club, three FA Cups to his name and just under 50 England caps, nobody can quite agree if the move was a successful one.
That is a question without a definitive answer, left down to personal interpretation of the numbers.
In truth, Walcott can consider himself a little unfortunate. Had he not played second fiddle to some of the big name strikers to grace the Emirates, the likes of Thierry Henry, Emanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie, perhaps his record would be looked on more favourably.
The same can be said of his injury record. Had he not suffered several big injuries, those numbers could and probably would have been more impressive.
Despite both of those factors, Walcott was never uncomfortable at the Emirates, in fact, he was far from it. He has always been well liked by manager and fans alike, never truly receiving criticism from either.
Wenger was keen to keep him and has gone out of his way to keep Walcott for much longer than was likely healthy for both parties.
Whatever way it’s construed, Arsenal was a comfort zone for Walcott and leaving it, in the process uprooting his family, was a risk and a brave decision to make. Even more so when you consider the team he is joining.
Arsenal’s garden may not be rosy at this moment in time but neither is Everton’s.
Goodison Park is looking healthier these days, both on the pitch and off it, but this is a team that currently sits closer to the relegation zone than to the top six it wishes to be a part of.
It is a team that is without a win in five that has lost three on the bounce and barely managed a shot on target in any of those games. Hardly inspiring stuff or a move most players are desperate to make, even if they can offer big wages to make up for it.
Indeed, it seems an even stranger move for Walcott to make when you consider Southampton were also keen on his signature.
The Saints may be in more dire straights than Everton at this moment in time but a return to the south coast must have surely tempted Walcott.
At Saint Mary’s he would be treated as the returning hero, brought back to drag his boyhood club out the mire and save a desperately faltering season. Even if he would have failed, it’s unlikely he’d have felt the wrath for it.
That’s the treatment that the returning heroes get.
Poor performances are overlooked; excuses are made for a lack of effort.
Not that Walcott would have done either such thing had he elected to join Mauricio Pellegrino’s side of course. If there’s one thing he can never be accused of, it’s a lack of effort.
The fact is, though, much like Arsenal, a move to Southampton would have meant Walcott was swapping one comfort zone for another. He could have gone there, picked up his wages and enjoyed a comfortable end to his career at the place where it all started. It would have been quite poetic.
Instead, Walcott has opted to take a relatively tough ride at Everton. Upon his arrival, he is immediately one of the better players in the squad.
That’s not to disparage against the likes of Yannick Bolasie or Aaron Lennon but compare the numbers and careers and Walcott comes out on top.
As a result, the expectation on him will be high. Evertonians will be expecting a lot and if he doesn’t produce sooner rather than later, they will let him know about it sooner rather than later. He would have faced no such treatment at either Arsenal or Southampton, that’s for sure.
It could, though, be just what Walcott needs to revive a somewhat flagging career.
And he should be commended for making the move. Walcott could have easily taken the easy option by staying at Arsenal or returning to Southampton.
Instead, he’s taken a risk and made the brave choice to move to Everton. When he looks back in 12 years time, he’ll be hoping it was a decision that paid big dividends for him and his new club.