England and Liverpool Captain, Steven Gerrard has said in his press conference prior to England’s match with Brazil at Wembley tonight, that Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has the “…potential to become one of the best in the world”. Praise indeed from someone of Gerrard’s quality. No matter your alliance, it should be accepted that Gerrard is probably one of the best midfield players of recent years, despite his choice of (erm!) domestic team that he chooses to ply his trade for!
Praise hasn’t just come from Gerrard; plenty of other renowned and respected names from the world of football have been quick to sing Jack’s quality. Liam (Chippy) Brady, an Arsenal legend, who is actually responsible for his development, and Roy (‘Woy’) Hodgson, our current England manager have also been quick to identify Jack as a potential ‘worldy’.
Brady, who I was fortunate enough to see play (no, I am not that ancient!) when I was a kid, has compared him to Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne, and suggested Wayne Rooney into the mix too for good measure. He says:
[quote]“I think he will be up there with the very, very skilful creative English players… He’s only going to get better.”[/quote]
People may forget that Jack is only 21. He was out of action for some 15 months with a nasty injury. At the age 19/20 (as he was), 15 months out is a long time and psychologically, it could affect getting back to playing.
Many commentators were quick to suggest he may not come back as the player he was, with the potential he showed, but ‘our’ Jack got stuck in, and worked very hard by all accounts from reports emanating from the Arsenal medical team.
A lot less determined player may have had to hang up his boots. It is a testament to the medical staff as to Jack’s recovery, and as is obvious, in recent year’s, medical science and recuperation procedures have meant ‘career ending’ injuries are not as common as they used to be… Look at Eduardo… but we digress!
Hodgson has played it all down. He said…
[quote]“I hope everyone understands he is still a young man, he is 21 and still capable of playing in the under 21’s, not that he will. I’m anxious in some ways and, delighted with his form and the way he plays. Sharing everyone’s enthusiasm about his quality, I want to play it down a bit too”.[/quote]
It is probably a good thing that Hodgson is not going completely overboard about how wonderful Jack is, simply because the media will use it against both of them at some future point… no doubt! I think that is a reasonable stance for Hodgson to adopt. Well done ‘Woy’!
Arsène Wenger has tried very hard to protect Jack from being overplayed where possible, and has been quick to ask that he is not included in the England set-up when he has felt it would be too much. You can’t wrap Jack in cotton wool, but I understand the concern. How many times have we seen a player with quality, back from long-term injury get over used too quickly… A certain Mr Diaby comes to mind, although I accept the Diaby situation is slightly different.
Of course, the English Media (and perhaps to a lesser extent, foreign press) will be very quick to build Jack up into something so very special… and rightly so, but if he should have a dip in form, particularly for England, then we all know that, as is their way, they will crucify him.
Many a player would crumble (and have) when the press get on their back, but Jack is made of sterner stuff, of that I have no doubt. He is passionate about football, passionate about Arsenal, in the same way that Tony Adam’s ‘lived, ate and breathed’ Arsenal, and like most footballers considers it a privilege, not a right, to represent his country.
Despite his age, Jack comes across as a sensible lad, who is now a family man with a son who he dotes upon. He isn’t by all accounts a party animal, but keeps a close nucleus of family and friends. He is passionate about the game we all have come to love and is only looking to win. More importantly than the undoubted skill and desire he possess, he never shirks a challenge and is definitely of the ‘old school’ on the physical side. Not dirty, but hard… Just like the legends of old, Storey, ‘Chopper’ Harris, Bremner, Keane and Viera to name a few.
Like many Arsenal fans, I believe that Jack is the future captain of not only Arsenal, but of England too. There is no doubt that Arsenal are a better team when Jack is playing, (and I would suggest that goes for England as well) as he orchestrates the midfield, dictates games, particularly when the chips are down (something all too common of recent weeks) and leads by his displays. England can only benefit from that!
In domestic football, Jack seems to have a good understanding now with both Arteta and Cazorla. Naturally, I am biased, but I see a bit of ‘Chippy’ Brady in him. The way he dips his shoulder, the pass he knows he will make even before he has received the ball, and his forward thinking 10 seconds ahead of anyone else. Many Arsenal fans would have only really seen that in the true sense in previous years with Brady, or more recently, Bergkamp, who in my opinion had probably the best footballing brain ever!
As for England… They definitely have not only a ‘worldy’ in the making with Jack, but a player who is so passionate about winning that it can only be good in both the dressing room and on the pitch for many years to come. Who knows, England may even win something (steady on, I hear you say!). It is interesting to note that when Gerrard himself made his England debut back in 2000 against Ukraine, Jack was only eight years old…Ironically, I am not sure who is more pleased to be playing in the same side, Gerrard or Jack!
The final words…
It is not that often that any player, let alone an England captain is as full of praise as to one of his team mates, but fair play to Gerrard, he has been bold with his comments. He continues…
[quote]“Jack has got a bit of everything; he can tackle, get up and down the pitch, create a goal, score a goal and can pass”.[/quote]
Yup, he can do all of those things! Gerrard continues…
[quote]“I think he has got the potential to become one of the best in the world and I don’t want to add any pressure. That’s unfair”.[/quote]
No pressure? Yeah right, but guess what? Jack can deal with it.
Gerrard finished his praise for Jack with the following…
[quote]“Playing against him recently and in training, he’s a one-off. He’s a lot better than your normal Premier League midfielder”.[/quote]
Despite my loyalty to Arsenal, but also as a football fan, in my opinion, players like Jack Wilshere only come along once in a lifetime, and I cannot sing his praises high enough. I think we should all look forward to seeing Jack ply his trade not only at domestic level but for England too for many years to come… I for one will be looking forward to it!
Get in there Jack!