Theo Walcott admitted he would “probably cry” when he puts on a Southampton shirt for the first time in almost 15 years and added: “It’s in my heart.”
The 31-year-old penned an emotional return to St Mary’s on transfer deadline day, agreeing to a season-long loan deal from Everton.
Theo Walcott became the youngest first-team player ever to feature for Southampton when he made his debut in August 2005, at only 16 years and 143 days, before having such an impact that it prompted Arsenal to sign him in January 2006.
He would go on to play for 12 years at Emirates Stadium, making 397 appearances, scoring 108 goals and twice winning the FA Cup, before moving to Everton in January 2018.
Walcott, who was part of the Southampton team that reached the 2005 FA Youth Cup final, has also earned 47 caps for England since making his senior international debut at the age of 17, as he went on to become one of the finest graduates ever to emerge from the Saints Academy.
And now he has made his return to Saints, the winger admitted it was an “easy decision” to come back to his boyhood club.
Walcott said: “I had a few opportunities from other clubs, but as soon as Southampton came in for me, it’s part of me and has made me into the player I am. It’s in my heart.
“I will probably cry, I bet, when I first play, and it means so much. All the people that made it happen, I can’t thank them enough. Honestly, I’m so pleased.
“I was seriously lost for words when Southampton came on the table, and for me, it was such an easy decision.
“To get the chance to work with the manager as well and these young players that are coming through, I feel like I’ve made the right choice.”