Out-of-work Jack Wilshere told: 'You're an injury waiting to happen'

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Jack Wilshere of Bournemouth during a training session at the Vitality Stadium on January 21, 2021 in Bournemouth, England - Out-of-work Jack Wilshere told: 'You're an injury waiting to happen' - GETTY IMAGES
Jack Wilshere of Bournemouth during a training session at the Vitality Stadium on January 21, 2021 in Bournemouth, England - Out-of-work Jack Wilshere told: 'You're an injury waiting to happen' - GETTY IMAGES

Jack Wilshere, the former Arsenal and England midfielder, has spoken of his "depressive thoughts" and questioning whether his career is over at 29 as he battles to overcome perceptions that he is “an injury waiting to happen”.

Wilshere, who was regarded as the best teenage footballer in the country during his breakthrough season at Arsenal in 2010-11, has been free of injury since before the first lockdown but has not had a club since ending his loan spell at Bournemouth in May.

Speaking on the Under The Surface podcast, Wilshere said that there had been talks with some clubs but that an opportunity to play with Como 1907 fell through following Brexit and new rules which limit Serie B from signing non-EU players.

Wilshere may again return to train with the Italian club, where Dennis Wise heads up the sporting operations, but has talked openly about the mental challenges of his situation as part of the Original Penguin X Campaign Against Living Miserably.

“I think it's a perception, and I’ve had this opinion from a few clubs; ‘great player, but an injury waiting to happen’,” he said. “I haven’t been injured since before lockdown, and it was not a serious injury. I've trained every day.

“It's frustrating and it sort of breaks your spirit as well… especially when you're training on your own. You have to run, and it's hard and it's boring, and then to get that answer it's like, ‘well why am I doing this? Why am I breaking myself every day, waiting for that opportunity to come, when I'm just getting answers like that?’ That's why I went to Italy as well. It was like a fresh start without that perception. It's a new book almost.”

Carabao Cup Final - Arsenal vs Manchester City - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 25, 2018 Arsenal's Jack Wilshere - ACTION IMAGES
Carabao Cup Final - Arsenal vs Manchester City - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 25, 2018 Arsenal's Jack Wilshere - ACTION IMAGES

Wilshere, though, says that it has helped him to be open about the mental challenges of his situation and find that people were overwhelmingly supportive and sympathetic.

“As a man and as footballers, we probably find it difficult to speak out and I always had that in my head,” he said. “I didn't think people want to hear someone who is a footballer, who gets paid well, moaning about things when it could be a dad out there who has to work 15 hours a day just to put food on the table.

“Someone reached out to me and said: 'You know these thoughts, (I don't want to say depression because I wouldn’t say I’m depressed), but these depressive thoughts - they don't care if you've got money [or] you've got nothing, everyone has them and it's about how you process them and deal with them.'

“It did help massively. It was difficult to do. I also thought it might come across a little bit weak but it actually didn't, it was the opposite, I had the opposite response from people saying how brave you are, and just being really supportive. It was a weight off my chest. It just motivated me a little bit more as well to keep going and keep training and just wait for the right opportunity.”

Wilshere stressed that his love of football is undiminished but that he has told his wife to be honest and tell him if his situation reaches a stage where he needs to rethink his future ambitions.

“I want to feel that buzz again going on to the pitch and playing football,” he said. “I've got a 10-year-old who is football mad, he loves football and he watches Sky Sports News, he sort of understands football and that's probably one of the toughest parts about explaining to him what's going on because he'd always ask me if I had a club yet or if anyone wanted me and I'm like ‘no’. You have to be honest with him.

“I said to the Mrs, look just say to me when it's enough: 'Stop going to train on your own and maybe try and focus on something else.'”

Asked if he had thoughts that his career was over, he said: “Yeah 100 per cent, with the situation I'm in and people say no or not even giving me a chance. It’s normal you’re going to have those thoughts. And then to get the support of players you've played with or players you've watched saying I can't believe you're without a club; it gives you confidence. I think I can play at the top level. The very top. Give me a chance, let me prove myself to you... show you that I’m fit.”

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