Euro 2012: England's Theo Walcott salutes squad spirit against Sweden

• Arsenal winger's equaliser was first England goal since 2008
• 'It was a long time coming but I was always confident'

Theo Walcott pointed to England's comeback against Sweden as evidence the squad boast the necessary character, as well as bite, to progress and excel in the latter stages of the European Championship.

The Arsenal winger, summoned from the bench on the hour, registered his first goal for his country since his hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb in the autumn of 2008 as Roy Hodgson's team rallied late on to claim a significant victory.

"That was a big win for us, not just for me but for the team," said Walcott who was making his first significant contribution in a major finals having not played in the 2006 World Cup and been omitted four years later. "We were unlucky to be 2-1 down, but it showed the character that we've got when we came back.

"It's always nice to come off the bench and show what you can do. I've obviously been disappointed that I haven't played, but I've been training hard and it's not about the starting lineup, it's a whole squad thing. It will not just be about the 11 that start if we are going to go far in this competition. You have to be ready to come on and play your part, and I did that.

"I actually felt sharp warming up. I surprised myself how well I did, putting three in the top corner in the warm-up and you need to be sharp on the pitch because at this level it's really, really tough. Getting my chance has been a long time waiting, like the goal. But I've always been confident. I didn't know I had that sort of [Cristiano] Ronaldo dip in me so I should try it more often. I scored in a crucial moment in the game and I think that shocked them. From then on we showed what class we've got."

The victory was sealed by Danny Welbeck's smart finish, again from Walcott's delivery. "It had everything, that goal," added the winger. "It shows that, despite being at such a young age, he can score goals at this level. Not just him but Andy Carroll, too. We've got players to come off the bench and we have a lot of firepower in this squad. I'm sure Wayne [Rooney] will want to make up for the time he's missed, and make it up to the lads, when he comes back, too. He is a world-class player and it'll be tough to leave him out, but we'll see what happens."

Welbeck was philosophical at the prospect of potentially losing his own position to Rooney when his Manchester United team-mate returns from suspension next week. "That's football," he said. "We all know the quality Wayne possesses, he is a world-class player and it is not up to me to pick the team. But I do play with him for my club, so maybe that is in my favour. We came back well and stuck together and our team spirit showed. When we went behind we still had the belief there and the team spirit showed through."

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