Jack Wilshere – One to watch

Remember the name: Jack Wilshere. This young man has certainly given his manager Arsene Wenger food for thought ahead of the new season after making a coming of age performance against Rangers in the Emirates Cup at the weekend. The 17 year old was rewarded with 90minutes of football against the Scottish Champions, after he made a man of the match showing against Atletico Madrid, coming on as a second half substitute.

With England coach Fabio Capello watching in the stands, Wilshere’s performance came at the right time, scoring two of Arsenal’s three winning goals, and picking up man of the match again.There has already been talk of Wilshere possibly featuring in England’s World Cup squad next summer, but he will need to be a regular starter at Arsenal before even being considered by Capello. For now it looks likely he will be promoted to Stuart Pearce’s Under 21 squad, due to be named tomorrow in preparation for their match against Holland next Tuesday.

Speaking after the game Wenger said – “At 16 years of age I gave him a chance to practise every day with the first-team players. He has benefited a lot from special treatment, an acceleration of his education.” He also added – “There is a problem in England. Knowing the impatience of English people it will be difficult to keep the right pace of progress. The World Cup is still a year away. Let’s first see how he improves and if he stays consistent.”

Wilshere, who’s being compared to a young Paul Gascoigne, has been with the Gunners since October 2001, having joined the London club as a nine year old boy. Since then he has worked his way up through the ranks from the under 16’s, under 18’s, Arsenal reserves and most recently the first team. Last season he was given a place in the first team squad, with manager Arsene Wenger giving him the number 19 shirt, formerly of Gilberto Silva.

He then went on to make his Premier League debut on the 13th September 2008, coming on as a substitute, in doing so he became Arsenal’s youngest ever league debutant at 16 years 256days, a record which was previously held by captain Cesc Fabregas. Not only that, has he already made his bow in the Champions League for the Londoners, adding his name to a list of only four other 16 year olds that have played in the Champions League, at just 16 years 329 days against Dynamo Kyiv.

A man that will be very proud of Wilshere’s progress and achievements is Arsenal legend, Liam Brady who currently resides as Head of Youth Development with the Gunners.After Arsenal’s victory in the FA Youth Cup Final, in May, Brady reserved praise for the ‘special’ Wilshere. “What he does in pre-season will dictate whether the manager feels he is ready to be in his team from the start, but I think it won’t be long before he will be”

The Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s won’t be popping up for the youngest just yet, as Wilshere has just signed a long term contract with the club, keeping him there for the foreseeable future.He is without a doubt a shining light at the end of a very dark tunnel for Arsenal, and will have to be a considered as a consistent starter for this season. And who knows, with the World Cup a year away I don’t see why he can’t make the team if this season plays well for him.

He’s got the world at his feet, and he is about to become the next biggest thing in English football. Forget your Wayne Rooney’s and Theo Walcott’s – Jack Wilshere is ready to stand up and be counted.


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