Unlucky 13 for kid star who’s no Michael Owen

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WHEN Theo Walcott scored that hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb, becoming the youngest England international ever to do so, it almost seemed like a Michael Owen moment.

When Owen scored THAT goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, a star was born and he didn’t do badly at all for his country, did he?

So, it seemed another star had risen for England when Walcott, just 19, destroyed Croatia. Over three years later, it might be reckoned he isn’t sparkling quite as brightly as that first shooting star suggested he would do.

Even on the domestic front, with Arsenal, it seems he hasn’t done as well as expected.

One of my friends is convinced about Walcott. And he has written, at length and in great detail, to Arsene Wenger about him.

Let’s put it this way - it’s not strong on compliments and Theo doesn’t score very well at all.

The guy - former non-league player and manager - has followed Wenger’s Arsenal closely over the years albeit from distance, via TV.

His missive is highly complimenatry to Wenger for the job he’s done and the football his Arsenal teams have played.

Then he gets to Theo.

He has written assessments on 13 different aspects of Walcott’s game. They range from left foot, heading ability, tackling, composure, crossing ability to any good points he wished to point out (he acknowledged his pace).

He has marked each of the 13 categories out of 10. Therefore, the maximum score Theo could get was 130.

So, how many did you reckon Theo ended up with? Yep, I was miles out as well.

He gave him 17. Out of 130.

I don’t think he is expecting a reply!

Good to see the area’s young referees getting on and news comes of an ‘honour’ for Michael Naylor.

The 32-year-old from Sheffield, in his second season on the Football League, is off to the USA in April after being chosen to referee at their oldest youth tournament, the prestige Dallas Cup.

Clubs from all over the world take part - Man United and Everton have entered - so it will offer Michael the prospect, and invaluable experience, of refereeing teams from countries of different cultures and styles.

Perhaps he can ‘pull’ on the experience of another Sheffield referee, Craig Pawson, who has refereed at this tournament previously.

Michael, who stepped up to the Football League in 2010, is a couple of years behind Craig in terms of League experience, Craig having been promoted in 2008.

Sandwiched in between them is another of the city’s products, Jock Waugh, who made his Football League refereeing ‘bow’ in 2009.

They are part of this region’s quartet of league referees topped, of course, by Howard Webb.

There are a lot of assistant refs from this area running the line including up in the Premier League.

The latest local to get his ‘debut’ up there was young Darren England from Barnsley who ran his first Premier League line at Stoke in November at the age of just 24.

It’s strange to me that someone from the refereeing authorities didn’t see fit to publicise such a fact at the time. They have their reasons for not going public with lots of things - and for refs keeping their mouths shut too - but when there is always a push to attract youngsters to refereeing, it could only have been positive publicity surely.

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