Barcelona 2011, PFA Young (and Arsenal) Player of the Year 2011, dubbed “the Future” by one-time Three Lions gaffer, Fabio Capello and still fondly remembered for his majestic display in England’s 2-2 draw at the re-opening of the Maracana in 2013, we have seen “the golden boy of English Football” (not Wayne Rooney) go from scraping the skies to being scrappy and subdued within the 6 years in which he has appeared on our screens.
Undoubtedly talented with extravagant doses of everything that have made the greatest players great – skill, character, drive and a listening ear – the fact that Jack Wilshere, being just 22 and having over 150 club games under his belt with 20-plus England caps, still receives more stick than any other player his age in the world goes a long way to show the immensity of his potential, and the immensity of all of the world’s frustration.
On one hand, a big case can be made for him as he has had to recover from various degrees of ankle setbacks, which at some points have ruled him out of entire campaigns, therefore not quite having a stretch of games with which to have the confidence to weave the wonder we know he is capable of.
Another argument in his favour could be that so much had been expected of him at too young an age, which prompted then Swansea boss Michael Laudrup to sound out a warning on branding the young prodigy as being world – class after his FA Cup match-winner in 2013, and being handed the same jersey numbers worn by Denis Bergkamp and David Beckham are not exactly small shoes to fill.
On the other hand, Wilshere hasn’t done himself many favours, with various tobacco related episodes being caught on camera, Vegas-gate and all that.
That said, Wilshere’s strongest point is his unquestionable passion for the game, that which makes him acknowledge his public wrongs, accept constructive criticisms, and dispel those which he thinks are rather aggressive. It is that uncommon trait of champions, more than his feet of a bull and strength of a bali guard (Peter Drury’s description of Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne, one of many Wilshere’s been likened to), more than his un-paralleled one-touch ability or his fearlessness in having salty opinions on who should and shouldn’t be selected for England, it is his love of Arsenal and his dear England that will eventually see the Jack finally make the world get served the full course of the meal to follow the appetizers we’ve had to make do with all these years.
For the first time in many seasons, he’s had an uninterrupted pre-season, playing every game for club and country bar one (Leciester away). Impressive in wins against Besiktas and Norway, imperious against Switzerland and League Champions, Manchester City, while bagging a well taken goal as well as having created as many chances, Wilshere’s season is about to take the turn that will remind us all of 2011 and at the same time set a new standard for the future.
The debate about whose videos he should study will go on and rightly so, but whatever one he decides to fully focus on, there is no reason to doubt that given a run without any mentions of tingles in his ankles or 3-inch sticks between fingers, the moment for the lad to lead has finally come.
“With expectation, we have waited. Wilshere’s awakening is now!”
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