Rooney 'A Massive Factor' In Walcott's Blues Move

by Paul McNamara

Theo Walcott says the influence of Wayne Rooney was a “massive factor” in his decision to sign for Everton – and admits he is coming to Goodison Park with a “point to prove”.

The Club confirmed the capture of 47-cap England international forward Walcott from Arsenal on Wednesday – further bolstering their attacking ranks after the purchase of striker Cenk Tosun earlier in January.

Walcott has been in countless Three Lions squads with Rooney and had the Everton Academy graduate to thank for teeing up two of his three goals when he became the youngest Englishman to hit a hat-trick for his country against Croatia in 2008.

The 28-year-old was coveted by a host of clubs and revealed England record goalscorer Rooney offered a compelling argument for choosing the Blues.

“I had numerous chats with Wayne and that was one massive factor which really tempted me to come to Everton,” Walcott told evertontv.

“He told me it was a great place to play football and a club that is on the up. Those are the reasons I came here.

“This is a club with great history. The fans are brilliant, they are always passionate… and I used to find it very tough playing here

“You want to be part of something and Wayne feels Everton are really going to improve.”

Manager Sam Allardyce put the signing of Walcott high on his priority list for this month’s transfer window and is a long-standing fan of the former Southampton player.

Walcott scored 19 goals for Arsenal last season and has added another four from nine starts this term.

He admitted the lure of playing for Allardyce – who selected Walcott for England when in charge of the national team in 2016 – represented another huge pull when Everton came calling.

Furthermore, Walcott, Arsenal’s top scorer with 21 in 2012/13 ahead of the likes of Olivier Giroud and Lukasz Podolski, is sharpening his shooting boots ready to line up in an attack that also features Turkey international Tosun, Rooney, Icelandic playmaker Gyfli Sigurdsson and Yannick Bolasie, back operating on the Toffees' wing following a long-term layoff.

“I was very proud of what I did last season – scoring 19 goals,” said Walcott.

“I want to bring that [scoring form] to Everton Football Club. I want to be part of the attacking force that is here.

“It always comes down to hard work and I think the manager here will get the best out of all the players.

“I just want to play football and enjoy it again. I feel this move will make that happen.

“With Sam coming in, his start was fantastic. There has been a little dip – but that happens and it is how you get out of that which makes you stronger. I feel like the players have got a point to prove, I have got a point to prove and it is going to get the best out of us, I am sure.

“I believe I can add value in any of the front-line positions. The manager will pick his team depending on who we play against. He sees me more on the right, but I can play in any of those positions. A lot of those 19 goals I scored I was playing on the right.

“I think this is going to be brilliant for me. I want to be a part of the atmosphere here and try to build something special. This is a special place to play football and the old traditions are great.”

In addition to playing alongside Rooney for England, Walcott also has experience of featuring in Three Lions teams with Everton pair Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka.

The forward expects to adjust to his new surroundings in quick time – but admits having a few familiar faces on the training ground will speed up the settling-in process.

“I know Jags very well and Leighton, too,” added Walcott. “But I am sure I will get on well with everybody here.

“The age I am at, I feel I can adapt to any situation. It will be a building process with the other parts of my life, my family and organising other things.

“But my priority will be Everton Football Club.”

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