Leading article: Left behind

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The Independent Online

When Paul Gascoigne was told he would not be playing in the 1998 World Cup, he trashed the room of his manager, Glenn Hoddle. We can safely assume that there were no such tantrums from the mild-mannered Theo Walcott when the Arsenal winger found out that he will not be part of the England squad that will compete in South Africa later this month.

But Walcott will be hugely disappointed nonetheless; not to mention confused. He has gone from being a surprise inclusion in the World Cup squad of four years ago, when he was manifestly not ready, to being surprisingly excluded today, when his claim is far stronger.

What young Walcott needs is something to take his mind off the fickle game. Luckily, there's plenty going on. The date of England's first match, 12 June, coincides with the Isle of Wight Festival. On 6 July, the date of the first semi-final, there's the running of the bulls in Pamplona. With Walcott's pace, that should be no problem. And then on 11 July, the date of the World Cup final in Johannesburg, a "quality craft and gift fair" will be held at Hartington Village Hall, Derbyshire. Perhaps this is Theo's chance to discover that there is a lot more to life than football.