Hansen says Walcott 'football brain' jibe is his one regret

Jul 16, 2014

Pundit bows out by admitting he was wrong to question Arsenal winger's ability

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Alan Hansen has bowed out of football punditry with a final column for the Daily Telegraph in which he revealed that his only regret over 23 years of analysis was publicly doubting whether Arsenal star Theo Walcott had a "football brain".

The Scot, a fixture on the BBC since the early 1990s, said he stood by his infamous "you'll win nothing with kids" comment about Manchester United at the start of the 1995-6 season, before a side featuring the likes of Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs went on to win the double.

Looking back on his career in his final column for the Telegraph, two days after he made his last appearance on Match of the Day covering the World Cup final, Hansen said there was "probably only one thing" that he regretted.

"Four years ago, I said that Theo Walcott did not have a 'football brain', without realising that my comments would be misinterpreted to such an extent," he said. "The meaning of my observation was not as brutal as it may have come across, but nonetheless, I was critical of Walcott's ability and I am pleased to say that Theo has proved me wrong one million per cent.

"He is a proper player and I have to admit that my comments about him were the only time that I have ever been happy to be wrong."

Hansen said he was glad to be stepping aside as it was time for a new generation of pundits to come through.

He said that the likes of Rio Ferdinand, who appeared alongside him during the World Cup, had brought a "freshness" to Match of the Day "even if we are saying the same thing".

Signing off from the Telegraph after 15 years as a columnist he admitted that it was now "a different world" from when he started.

"Twitter has changed everything, to the point whereby you not only have to make sure that what you say is right, but also that you say nothing wrong," said Hansen, who was forced to apologise in 2011 for referring to black players as "coloured".

"There has never been a hiding place in the media, but nowadays, you can find yourself being judged within 10 seconds of publication or broadcast."

Sign up for our daily newsletter