England winger Theo Walcott only played the final half hour against Sweden -- up from the final couple of minutes against Ukraine -- yet he played an integral part in taking his side from losing to winning in just 15 minutes. And then he got hurt.
Luckily it didn't seem too bad this time, but after playing his longest and arguably best season at Arsenal, there's the slightly menacing sound of a ticking clock that Walcott is trying very hard to ignore. ""We try not to think about these injuries because ever since I had my shoulder operation [in 2008], if I tend to think about injuries then I'll get injured myself," the 23-year-old said, probably while covered in bubble wrap and elbow pads, as a rash of afflictions spread through the England camp just before Euro 2012.
But against Sweden, Walcott's contributions were quick and laced with good fortune. Three minutes after coming on for James Milner, Walcott scored with an uncharacteristic shot from outside the box that may have deflected off a defender before floating over the keeper and in for an equalizer. Fourteen minutes after that, a blazing run put Walcott past Sweden's defense before he set up Danny Welbeck's backheel winner with a fantastic cross.
Walcott became England's youngest ever player at 17 years old in 2006 and has 27 caps and three previous goals (all coming in one World Cup qualifying against Croatia in 2008) to his credit. And if that next injury that he's not thinking about comes at some point, he's got his series of children's books to write. So whether this performance leads to another chance at starting or not doesn't really matter to the man who will one day join football with 50 Shades of Grey style erotic fiction.
In the interest of knowing him a little better, here are a few shin splints of information I just made up about him:
-He has never shaved his face.
-He chews all his food exactly 47 times.
-Has a dog named "Robot" and a robot named "Edmond."
-He seriously considered getting an exoskeleton with a liquid hydraulic cooling system but he couldn't figure out how to order it because the website was all in Japanese.
-His beverage of choice is water.
-He has a treasure map that leads to real pirate treasure.