This is it. Sort of. Well, it could be. Anything other than...
Jack The Lad
Can you remember what you were doing in October of the year 2001? Yes? No? Maybe? Well, whatever it was, it certainly can’t have been as special as joining Arsenal Football Club. At the age of 9 years old, that is exactly was Jack Wilshere did. Ever since, he has devoted his life to becoming not only a world class football player, but also the best possible servant to the club that he can be. Now, 12 years on, at the age of 21, Jack has become a player who many fans see as someone who embodies The Arsenal and everything it represents. It’s very rarely that we see exceptional talent coupled with true passion, but players who possess both of these qualities do come by every so often. Jack Wilshere is one of them.
Even though he’s had a big set-back in the form of a very serious ankle injury, which kept him out for nearly 1 and a half years, he showed a huge amount of heart, desire and will to recover that, for someone of his age, was simply astounding. It is in our darkest and most depressing moments in life that we find and/or develop our biggest inner strengths. Jack Wilshere proved, not only to everyone else but also to himself, that he is resilient. In fact, as Jack has said so himself, I believe that his experience made him not just stronger physically, but stronger mentally. Footballers with perfect physical condition alone, can only go so far. It is my belief that to truly reach the very top level, a footballer has to have a mind that is proportionally just as strong as his or her body. For a man of 21 years old, Jack is mentally mature and seems more than capable of repairing cracks made by continuous blows dealt to Arsenal’s confidence. But, as much as I (and I’m sure all of you) admire and respect him for this, the fact is, he can’t do it alone.
However, I’m going to focus on Jack himself, rather than how much or how little assistance he may or may not need/receive from fellow teammates. I want to outline what Jack offers us, both now and in the future, his role as a leader and his embodiment of a legacy that will survive the ages.
Whatever you can do, Jack can do better.
Beyond his pure passion for the game and his undying loyalty to Arsenal, Jack is undeniably one of the best footballers England has produced in recent years. I’ll keep saying it: he’s 21. For a player of his age, Jack has an exceptional confidence and frightening fluidity to his game and also a surprisingly consistent delivery of high-level performances that, at the even younger age of 19, earned praise from the likes of Xavi and Iniesta (Midfield Royalty). Nearly two years, and a fairly large, injury-induced break, later and our golden boy is not only back to his mouthwatering, awe-inspiring best, but almost definitely improving upon his own ability.
With every passing game, Jack showcases more and more of his wonderfully exciting talent and strikes a lethal combination of fear and envy into more and more opponents as he goes. With the single drop of a shoulder, as if by magic, Jack can turn what was a few inches of barely workable space into acres of the green stuff to have fun in. Then, with his tongue sticking out like a living compass needle, begins his now famous carrying of the ball. He strides forward with intent and purpose, using a combination of momentum, strength, a low centre of gravity and quick feet to both ride and glide through challenges, before effortlessly delivering an inch-perfect, pin-point ping of a ball to one of his fellow teammates… Simply beautiful to watch. This, I can safely say, is a master at work.
Wilshere’s play drives the Arsenal team up the pitch and makes him, naturally, an instigator of fast, meaningful attacking moves. This contagious and influential element of Jack’s game, is one that I personally feel is just as, if not more important as his individual skill on the ball. But what is even more promising, is the simple fact that Jack Wilshere’s ability and physical influence on a match will only improve with age, as he becomes more complete and more experienced. The thought alone is enough to give me goosebumps.
So much has been said of late regarding Jack Wilshere’s potential to one day become captain of Arsenal Football Club. It’s easy to see why so many view him as the perfect man for the job in the future, or even now. Jack is a natural leader. He is emotionally attached to Arsenal and feels the inherent desire to get things done in the right way, which shows through his vocal expression on the pitch. We often see him barking out orders to his teammates and encouraging them to move up the pitch in attack or hold a certain line in defence. We even see him giving out some heart-felt bollockings to other players when they’ve done something wrong which, for a 21 year old, is a brave thing to do indeed. But thats just it, age is just a number in Wilshere Wonderland. He is respected by teammates and fans alike as though he were a club veteran, which is largely down to his infectiously passionate personality and game-play. But I also believe that Jack is an intelligent player, who, like most of the British core at Arsenal, is a sensible and considered in both his words and actions. Of course he has a tendency to be a bit rash on the pitch, but isn’t that part and parcel of pouring your heart and soul into something? Isn’t that part and parcel of being human? Which is something that I, like many of you I’m sure, have to remind myself Jack is.
“Just to play for Arsenal is a dream come true. But to lead the team out at the Emirates would also be a dream.” – Jack Wilshere
I believe that one day, in the not too distant future Jack will be captain of Arsenal, it seems destined to be. Seeing him wear the armband for the first time against West Ham was a happy moment, because it just felt right. Theres no other way to explain it. However, for now Jack needs to be focused in the job in hand and like he said himself, he doesn’t need the armband in order to establish himself as a leader, he does that through his performances and attitude on the pitch.
Jack Wilshere: A Living Legacy.
Jack is the club and fan’s living and breathing inheritance, left to us to represent and embody a period focused upon producing world-class players from within the Arsenal. This philosophy was, and still is, championed by Arsène Wenger, a man who Jack has said he owes so much to and a man who played such an instrumental role in his signing of a new five and a half year deal at the club. This is a player who truly represents what Arsenal have stood for, for so long: Doing things the right way, doing things the Arsenal way. Having come through the ranks at the academy, before forcing his way into the first team set-up and now being the first name on the starting line up every week, Jack Wilshere defines the Arsenal approach. He stands for something that is worth more than any amount of money per-week could buy you. He stands for a love, he stands for loyalty and he stands for leadership.
“I will never leave Arsenal.” – Jack Wilshere
So next time you find yourself down and out, questioning The Arsenal and their ability to compete ever again, just remember that breath of fresh air, remember that ray of hope, remember that ever-present heart beat of the team, relentlessly and restlessly pounding away. Remember that we have Jack Wilshere and remember that he’s here to stay.
Download DAG’s custom Jack Wilshere wallpaper from our Wallpaper section: