Theo Walcott admits he “fell out of love with football” towards the end of his time at Arsenal as he struggled for regular game time under Arsene Wenger.
Back in January, the 29-year-old opted to take on a new challenge as Everton made a £20 million ($26m) move for his services.
A switch to Goodison Park brought a 12-year stint at Emirates Stadium to a close, with the England international having made 397 appearances and scored 108 goals for the Gunners.
Walcott also took in two FA Cup triumphs and 47 outings for his country during a productive spell in north London, but had slipped down the pecking order before heading through the exits.
He told Sky Sports of that testing period, as Wenger favoured other attacking options: “I'm not going to lie, I fell out of love with football for a little bit. Because I had some good performances, but then just didn't get the chance to play on.
“Scoring over 100 goals for Arsenal is a great achievement for me personally, and then just the last year-and-a-half was tough, I can't lie. It was really tough, not being able to get into the team, being in and out.
“I just felt I wanted to get the excitement of football again. I didn't feel like it was going to be at Arsenal then.
“Sam [Allardyce] at the time got in contact, and I felt ‘yeah, this is the right move for me’. I got the buzz and enjoyment back, and I couldn't be in a happier place to be honest, I'm playing football with a smile on my face. I just love football again.”
Walcott admits adjusting to life away from Arsenal was tough at first, as he started afresh on Merseyside, but he is feeling more settled in 2018-19.
He added: “[Leaving] was tough, it really was, I can't lie. When you're used to something for so long it's a difficult decision, but I felt like it was the right one for me.
“The hardest thing was leaving my family for a certain amount of time before they moved up. That was the missing piece of the puzzle, which only has just sort of kicked into place at the start of this season.
“It always felt I was I was a little bit at Arsenal, and a little bit here.
“We obviously played Arsenal two weeks after I moved [losing 5-1], and it still felt like I was a little bit there, because it was too soon.”
Walcott is set to be reunited with the Gunners again on Sunday when Everton head to the Emirates.
A familiar face will be hoping to haunt Unai Emery’s side in that contest, with a proven Premier League performer having already contributed two goals and an assist to the Toffees cause this season.