Teen Theo Walcott Makes World Cup Team

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 10, 2006; 12:17 AM

LONDON -- Theo Walcott had just finished his written exam for his driver's license when he learned he had been picked for England's World Cup team.

"I turned (my phone) back on, phoned my dad and he told me the news and could not believe it was true," the 17-year-old Arsenal striker said Tuesday. "He said to me, `You're in the England squad' and I thought he was having me on."

"I was shocked and surprised as everyone was. My first thoughts were that I can't believe this, really. The move to Arsenal and then this, it is just unbelievable," Walcott told Sky Sports News. "My eyes were coming out of my head."

The rest of the nation also was taken aback by coach Sven-Goran Eriksson's decision Monday to gamble on a player who has not yet played in a Premier League game but is now going to soccer's biggest event.

Walcott joined Arsenal from League Championship club Southampton in January. Although he has been on the substitutes bench several times, he has not kicked a ball in first-team games. Eriksson hasn't even seen Walcott play, apart from training sessions or on tape.

Walcott will miss Arsenal's Champions League final against Barcelona in Paris next week because he will be with the England squad for training.

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Germany captain Michael Ballack has a word of caution for the host nation.

"Everyone should be aware that a positive surprise is possible with this young team _ but an early exit as well," Ballack said in Tuesday's edition of Sport-Bild weekly.

Ballack said it's unrealistic to set a goal of the quarterfinals or the semifinals for the three-time World Cup champions.

"We have many players on our roster who could still play for the under-21 team," Ballack said. "Many players are still learning, many are a long way from reaching their zenith."

Ballack urged coach Juergen Klinsmann to consider 32-year-old defender Jens Nowotny, saying the team could use his "class and international experience." Nowotny missed the first half of the season with torn knee ligaments.


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