By Gary Lawrence
I first saw the name Jack Wilshere in the Arsenal programme, where I noticed he had such an impressive goal tally for the under-18’s side. Especially when you consider he was a midfielder, who was doing this while still a schoolboy aged 15.
The first time I clapped eyes on him was on Arsenal TV. He was playing for the under-21’s I think, though still only 16 and scored a beautiful left footed chipped goal against West Ham. I remember thinking to myself we could have another Liam Brady on our hands here.
I confidently predicted to three of my golfing mates that Arsenal had a player named Jack Wilshere. Who will be an Arsenal regular by the time he’s 18 and an England player a year after that. He didn’t let me down!
The first time I watched him live was when he played for the first team in a pre-season friendly against Juventus. 16 year old Jack wasn’t fazed in the slightest as he clattered into the World renowned Nedved, leaving him on his arse!
I remember him playing against Barcelona, who had Messi, Xavi and all the rest of that fantastic side. Again he passed with flying colours. He was the best player on the pitch that night. He thrived in that company when any other English player that young would have been hopelessly out of their depth, not Jack though he was magnificent that night as we beat Barcelona 2-1.
Then the injuries started coming that have blighted his career ever since. It seemed every time he looked like getting back to his best another injury set him back. A fit Jack Wilshere is one of the finest sights in football, as he drives at defenders with his low centre of gravity.
Who can forget that wonderful goal against Norwich, when he and Giroud pinged the ball to each other, before Jack slotted it away. Or the beauty he got against WBA.
I’m gutted he is leaving us for Bournemouth. I’m sure Big Sam has helped persuade him to make this decision. Yes he will get regular football if he stays fit. Eddie Howe is a fine young manager who plays decent football and he has his old Arsenal mate Afobe there. But with all due respect to Bournemouth Jack deserves better than that.
A year is a long time in football and I have a feeling that when he returns to Arsenal with just a year left on his contract that we may well have seen the last of Jack in an Arsenal shirt.
He’s Arsenal through and through. Having been with us since he was nine years old. He is probably the best English midfield talent since Gazza. It will be such a pity if he doesn’t fulfil his massive potential at The Arsenal.
It really saddens me that Jack is the last of the British talents to make it from a kid, right through to the first team and footballing stardom. Something that was once a conveyor belt of talent starting with the 1971 Double boys. Then the likes of Brady O’Leary Stapleton and Rix. Then came Davis, Adams Rocky Merson etc. then Parlour & Cole. Till finally Jack. Although I suppose you have to say Iwobi has also travelled that route. But it’s very rare these days.
When he’s sitting on a sofa watching TV and the CL music comes on at the Emirates, I’m sure there’ll be a tinge of regret That he’s no longer a part of it and playing on the big stage. However this loan turns out for him, I for one will sorely miss him and wish him all the very best for the future.