The secret football diary of Theo Walcott, aged 17<SUP>1</SUP>/<SUB>4</SUB>

Stan Hey explores the thoughts of a teenage debutant - with apologies to Sue Townsend and Adrian Mole
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The Independent Online

Well, what can I say - apart from "sorry Wayne that I broke your record - yet another bad break, eh, Wozza!" Really didn't expect to get beyond the bench tonight but Sven said: "Theo, I want you to play in the holding midfielder role... no, sorry, that's Jamie Carragher. But anyway, you will come on in the second half and you will be the front 1 in the 4-1-4-1 formation. Unless Michael Owen needs to come off, in which case you'll be the 1 behind Crouch in a 4-1-4-1-1 formation."

I'm no genius but even I could see that it added up to 12 players, with Robbo in goal, but I sort of knew what Sven wanted. Tried to stay calm as the minutes ticked by - "just another game" I kept telling myself. Boots, shorts, shirt - all on. Yikes! Tie laces! And then, monsta moment - Sven calls me over, next thing I'm jogging out on to the Old Trafford turf against mighty Hungary!

It was a help that Crouchy came on as well - not because we were at Southampton together, but cos he makes me look even quicker! "Meep, meep!" I said as I went past him. He's as thin as a bike, Crouchy, and if he turns sideways, you can't see him!

But anyway, I made a couple of runs - sent in a couple of low crosses for Crouchy, which, thinking about it, should have been high ones. Then he scored and the game was over. Didn't really get a chance to wave to mum and dad and Melanie in the stand.

I heard that Gary Lineker was a bit miffed that I'd given away my first England shirt. Gaz, my man, look at the replay - I swapped my shirt with Becks, who'd already given his to a Hungarian geeza. Becks wanted mine because it had his number, 23, on the back. Like in Madrid. Said he chose it cos he can remember it by knowing what comes after one... two-three!

The dressing room was well buzzy after the game. John Terry with his first goal for England told me his "baby-rocking" celebration wasn't about his twins but about me and Aaron being in the squad.

When we got back to the hotel, the lads hit the bar harder than that Hungarian defender. Lamps brought me out a bottle of diet Coke and a packet of Lineker's crisps - can't remember flava - as I sat in the lounge.

Later we all got together for a team meeting - the good points had been Rio's hair (corn rows but no gel), and Sven's verdict that we had played "werry well". Cracks me up, Sven - like when he says "worldcup" as one word.

Bad point of the night was, we all agreed, not Becks dissing the ref and getting a yellow, but Crouchy's goal celebration. What woz he on? Later some of the lads sneaked into his room - he has two beds to himself, end to end - and checked out his iPod. First track up was "Cars" by a geeza called Gary Numan. All fuzzy and electronic. No wonder Crouchy did the robo-dance if that tune was in his head!

Wednesday, 31 May (aged 17 years, 76 days)

Woke up with my head spinning. Some of the lads had nipped in and put a baby's mobile on the ceiling above me, whizzing round.

After brekka, it was down to the coach outside, the team bus I mean, not Sven! It parks so we don't have to walk too far or sign too many autographs. Real pro biz, this England stuff.

Light training at Fort Carrington - take mick out of Sol Campbell who is nearly twice as old as me, and can't catch me for saying so. Crouchy gets turn in the midfield holding role.

After lunch, we do an hour of serious shirt-signing but Gaz Neville pulls out with a wrist injury. Strolled over to the art gallery named after geeza called L S Lowry. Full of paintings of stick men, who all look like Crouchy on a wet day!

Get back, phone agent. Still no shaving ads (too young). Becks has a full set - razors, boots, shades - while Stevie G has done one kicking a can of Pringles about with Roberto Carlos. Awesome.

Thursday, 1 June (aged 17 years, 77 days)

Loads of letters in reception. Not fan mail - just hundreds of Jamaicans after tickets for Saturday's game, claiming to be related to me. My great uncle, Clyde Walcott, did play for West Indies - bet it was in the midfield holding position!

Crouchy pulls a right stroke in training - dresses up in mohair sweater and chinos, and looks just like Prince William. Becks said it woz really him. You're having a laff! See ya!

Saturday 3 June (aged 17 years, 79 days)

Didn't get on today - but still played vital role. Missed Crouchy's penalty howler while nipping off to get Derby bets on for Mikey Owen! His signals were "Hand over eye" (Horatio Nelson) and "Sign of the cross" (Papal Bull). Good job he didn't pick Sir Percy!

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