Jack Wilshere would be the first to admit that his Arsenal career didn’t pan out the way it perhaps should have.
Tipped as the next big thing for both club and country, he struggled desperately with injury problems and wasn’t ever able to recapture the promise he showed after breaking into the Gunners’ first team.
Wilshere was handed his debut against Blackburn Rovers in September 2008, aged 16 years and 256 days, and three years after becoming the club’s youngest-ever league debutant, he was a regular in the side and mixing it with the big boys in the Champions League.
His playing days may not be over yet, but Wilshere has now shed some light on his time in north London in an impromptu Q&A session on his Twitter.
Inviting fans to ask him questions using the hashtag #askwilsh, the 34-cap England midfielder – who once won six man of the match awards for the Three Lions in the space of seven Euro 2016 qualifying games – opened up on a number of Gunners related matters, including which player past or present he’d ideally like to play alongside in midfield and what he thinks of Mesut Ozil’s unceremonious exit from the club.
But the most striking answer of all – and most hilarious – was when Wilshere was asked what it was like to play against Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium in 2011, when he came up against the legendary midfield trio of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.
Questioned whether or not he learnt much from the trio, Wilshere quipped, “Couldn’t learn much, they all spent the night in my pocket”. In truth, his retort isn’t really an exaggeration. On the night, he was superb against Barça‘s team of established stars, even though he was still a teenager, and the Gunners emerged victorious 2-1 thanks to late goals from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin.
Wilshere revealed that Arsene Wenger told him to just “be yourself” after that performance, telling him that he was in the team in the first place because he was good enough. He also confirmed that Patrick Vieira, a legendary figure at Arsenal for the best part of a decade, would be the player he’d most want to play alongside if given a chance.
He was also reminded of the time that he antagonised Tottenham supporters after Arsenal’s FA Cup win in 2015, and joked that his antics on the parade bus that followed cost him a £40,000 fine – before adding that he was sad to see Mesut Ozil depart the club after being frozen out by head coach Mikel Arteta.