On This Day in 2006: Theo Walcott becomes England’s youngest international

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Theo Walcott became England’s youngest international in a 3-1 friendly victory over Hungary at Old Trafford on this day in 2006.

Introduced as a substitute, replacing Michael Owen in the 65th minute, the forward, aged 17 years and 75 days, beat Wayne Rooney’s previous record of 17 years and 111 days.

Walcott had yet to even make his league debut for Arsenal, having joined the Gunners from Southampton.

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In their penultimate warm-up game ahead of the 2006 World Cup, England saw a penalty from Frank Lampard saved just before half-time.

Steven Gerrard and John Terry headed in from David Beckham free-kicks as England scored twice in three minutes early in the second half.

Hungary skipper Pal Dardai pulled one back from long range, before Peter Crouch added a late third for Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side.

Walcott was a shock selection by Eriksson for the 2006 World Cup squad, but did not play in Germany, where England were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Portugal.

Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring for England against Croatia
Theo Walcott went on to become the youngest England player to score a hat-trick in the win over Croatia (Owen Humphreys/PA)

In September 2008, Walcott became the youngest England player to score a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Croatia in Zagreb – but was a surprise omission from Fabio Capello’s squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

A serious knee injury saw Walcott ruled out of contention for the 2014 World Cup, and his last England appearance came in a friendly against Spain during November 2016.

Walcott left Arsenal to join Everton in January 2018, before returning to the Saints, initially on loan ahead of a permanent move ahead of next season.