Walcott joined Arsenal in January 2006 from Southampton at the age of 16. In his 12 years with the club, he made 397 appearances and scored 108 goals. While good numbers, there are those that believe that Walcott has never lived up to expectations.
Walcott found himself on the fringes of the squad this season. He knew it was time to move on if he wanted regular first team action and the chance to be considered for the England national team.
One thing that has to be said about Theo is that he was loyal. So he leaves the club with respect and appreciation from Gooners.
Here’s a trip down memory lane and a rundown of some of Walcott’s top moments in the red and white of Arsenal:
February 25, 2007 - Arsenal vs. Chelsea - League Cup Final - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Arsenal met Chelsea in the 2007 Carling Cup Final. Walcott opened the scoring with his first ever Arsenal goal to give his side an early lead in the 12th minute. Chelsea went on to win 2-1, but Walcott had announced his arrival.
August 21, 2010 - Arsenal vs. Blackpool - Emirates Stadium
Arsenal ran riot against newly promoted Blackpool and came away 6-0 victors. Walcott was the man of the match and recorded the first hat trick of his career.
October 29, 2011 - Arsenal vs. Chelsea - Stamford Bridge
In a crazy match Arsenal defeated Chelsea 5-3. While Robin van Persie scored a hat trick, Walcott’s goal in the 55th minute is the one that stood out. Despite slipping in between two Chelsea players while running with the ball, Walcott got back up, ran past two defenders and scored. Adding to the craziness of this match is the fact that Andre Santos (remember him?) also got on the score sheet.
February 26, 2012 Arsenal vs. Tottenham - Emirates Stadium
Walcott picked a great match to shine. The North London Derby is always contentious and this one was no different. Spurs were up by two goals after 34 minutes and the mood inside the stadium was toxic. The Gunners staged an amazing comeback, however, and Walcott contributed a brace to seal a 5-2 Arsenal victory.
October 30, 2012 Arsenal at Reading - League Cup Fourth Round - Madejski Stadium
This was perhaps one of the craziest matches Arsenal have ever been involved with. The Gunners found themselves down 4-0 after 37 minutes. A defeat looked like it was in the making. It was not to be. Walcott scored a hat trick and Arsenal came from behind to shock Reading 5-7 in extra time.
May 30, 2015 - Arsenal vs. Aston Villa - FA Cup Final - Wembley Stadium
Arsenal defeated Aston Villa 4-0 to win their second consecutive FA Cup in 2015. Despite the final scoreline, the Gunners faithful grew nervous when the game was still goalless after 40 minutes. Walcott took care of things with a goal just before half time. Sanchez, Mertesacker and Giroud added to the tally in the second half and Arsenal retained their trophy.
January 4, 2014 - Arsenal vs. Tottenham - FA Cup Third Round - Emirates Stadium
I saved the best for last, as this is the definitive Theo Walcott moment in an Arsenal shirt. Like the iconic Henry slide in front of the Tottenham fans in 2002, Walcott had his own North London Derby moment that will be remembered forever.
It wasn’t a goal, however, rather a gesture he made to the visiting fans as he was being stretchered off the pitch after tearing a knee ligament in the 81st minute.
Goals from Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky had Arsenal up 2-0 when Walcott was hurt. Despite the seriousness of the injury that would keep him out of the remainder of the season and the 2014 World Cup, Walcott had a message for the fans.
As he was being carried off by medics, Tottenham fans taunted him and threw objects at him. Walcott’s response was to cheekily hold up two fingers on his right hand and make a zero with his left to show the visiting Spurs fans the score of the game: 2-0 to the Arsenal.