Theo Walcott has hailed England’s strength in attack following their comeback 3-2 win over Sweden at Euro 2012 on Friday night.
Handed a cameo with a little over 30 minutes left to play, the winger turned the game on its head with an instinctive half-volley from 30 yards, before darting between two opposing defenders to set up Danny Welbeck for the winner.
Walcott acknowledged his own need to be prepared when coming on after missing out against France, before adding that Wayne Rooney’s return from suspension will only prove to boost their ‘firepower’.
“I think in tournaments you have to wait for your moment,” he said after the match.
“If you’re not starting the first game and you’ve got to always train well, always be ready when the boss needs you. There’s no point sulking.
“Hopefully I showed that it’s not always about the team that started. You know, 24 players (sic) are hopefully going to win this tournament, or take us far in the tournament anyway.
“It just shows how much firepower we’ve got on that bench, and we haven’t even seen Wayne yet.
Walcott was noticeably disappointed after the France game due to not making it onto the pitch, but the winger moved to dispel any notion of lasting negative feelings by reaffirming his commitment to England’s cause.
“Everyone always wants to play. And as a player, it’s always disappointing not to play at all. That’s all it was,” he said.
“I was very happy the team got a result, but you’d be disappointed. But you’ve always got to show your disappointment at the right time, but you’ve got to bounce back from that, and that’s what I did.”
Despite just turning 23, Walcott has been on the international scene for six years. Critics say he has flattered to deceive after a stand-out performance against Croatia in September 2008 where he netted a hat-trick.
And Walcott ranks Friday night’s performance as one of his best, citing his impact in his short cameo.
“There’s been some good performances in there, but coming off the bench you need to be ready,” he said.
“You need to be sharp, and in a tournament situation on the big stage, it’s demanding on you as well. Not just going forward, but getting into shape straight away.
“(When I scored) I just thought ‘wow’. At first I thought it took a deflection to be honest, but I watched it back and it didn’t take it.
“It’s been a long time coming since my last goal for England and it was at a crucial time of the game as well, I think we shocked, and it just shows what class we’ve got now, and the three points were massive for us today.”
England now need just a point against Ukraine to secure qualification to the quarter-finals, and can top Group D if they better France’s result against Sweden.
However, the co-hosts will also be fighting for their survival, and Walcott does not believe Tuesday’s game will be as easy as some are suggesting.
“That’s tricky. It’s against the hosts, which is always going to be a tough game,” he said.
“We’ll go out there and try to win. Everyone was saying the defence against France was brilliant but the attack wasn’t great, and people would say the defence wasn’t great today but I thought we were a bit unlucky.
“So hopefully now, the best of them will come together against Ukraine, and we’re going to have to be at our best to beat them, because they’re going to be a tough cookie to break, trust me.”
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