Soccer

Sven says he "couldn’t find better" than Walcott in front of gutted Darren Bent

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Sven Goran Eriksson has opened up on his decision to take Theo Walcott to the 2006 World Cup at the age of 17.

Walcott was named in the 23-man England squad to compete in the tournament, having never made a senior appearance for the national side at the time.

The former Arsenal forward did not feature for the Three Lions as they were knocked out by Portugal on penalties at the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Darren Bent was one player overlooked as an attacking option, despite scoring 18 Premier League goals for Charlton Athletic in the 2005/06 campaign.

Fifteen years on from this call, Bent grilled the former England boss on why Walcott was chosen in his place.

“Walcott? Well I couldn’t find anyone better," Eriksson told talkSPORT.

"Then I thought why not take him with his speed, but also when you pick number 23 he will probably not win the World Cup for you.

"I thought, for the future, he will be very good and it was a pity he couldn’t play and depended a lot that Rooney got sent off and we played an hour with 10 against 11 against Portugal in the quarter-final. It was not time to change anything.

Was Sven Goran Eriksson right to take Walcott? Comment below.

“We can discuss that for a long time. I thought it was a good idea and I had a lot of talks about it and decided to take him.

“The media were very positive about it, but when he didn’t play they were very negative about it.

“We did it. If it was right or wrong, who knows. Whatever I had done there, it wouldn’t have changed the result in the World Cup.”

Ahead of another international tournament for England, Eriksson has shared his views on the current side.

The Swede sees a lot of potential in Gareth Southgate's team and believes they have what it takes to win Euro 2020.

"You have a lot of young, good attacking players," he said.

"I think, with some of the players, you can put them wide, central, up front or a little bit behind. Southgate has a lot of good options.

"I always said with England, if you can defend very well, you will kill the opponent on counter-attacks.

"You have the goalscorer, maybe the best in the whole world, Kane. To have these things in the team: defending well, counter-attacks, goalscorer – you can win the Euros with that."

READ MORE: Inside England's lavish Euro 2020 hotel with private chefs and luxury spa

READ MORE: Chris Sutton agrees with Roy Keane over England's Jordan Henderson risk

  • England Football Team
  • Gareth Southgate
  • Euro 2020
  • World Cup

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