Jack Wilshere, Sad Story of Modern Football

Recently, the world of football was given new details on how footballers deal with the expectations that come with being nationally and globally renowned athletes. This shocking news comes in the form of a recent Jack Wilshire interview conducted by Athletic UK. The former British and international starlet gives an emotional interview that highlights the ups, downs and joys of his career.

One of the pivotal moments that changed the trajectory of his career was the bottleneck manifested in the many physical injuries he had to endure, which intersects with stigmatization by clubs, agents and other big actors in the industry. Mental health is not a common topic for athletes to talk about, and there is very little awareness in this regard. Wilshire’s brief interview is somewhat humane to sports figures who are often described as ‘gods’ or ‘untouchables’.

Footballers or athletes in general, are figures who get attention from all walks of life. From the media, fans and key actors in the industry, the constant attention paid to these sporting figures has forced them to take into account the small details of their lives while also preparing for the backlash of the slightest act of perversion. In the case of Jack Wilshere, another issue that needs to be addressed is the amount of hope placed on young football prospects by the media and fans. It can also be detrimental to athletes, especially those who have been in the spotlight from a young age.

Players like Royston Drenthe and Freddy Adu, are some examples of young wonderkids who failed to live up to expectations. In the interview, Wilshere, who was once one of England’s brightest prospects, reflected on how he was under high pressure from an early age. However, fortunately for Jack, he managed to minimize the impact of the pressure that young footballers commonly feel.

Although Wilshere was involved in several cases such as a nightclub fight in 2016, an affair in 2010, and several times caught smoking in a nightclub, he managed to maintain a high standard of performance at Arsenal. This is reflected in the high standard of performance on the gridiron he was able to show during his time as an Arsenal player under Arsene Wenger’s management, further sparking enthusiasm from the media and fans. Man of the man of the match performances for both club and country were common for Wilshire during his early and mid-career.

However, he is currently 29 years old and without a club due to a decline in form caused by a severe injury. Ideally, 29 is the age at which athletes usually reach their peak. He stated that “I never thought that I would be in this position”. Jack’s statement reflects the current state of his career, and also sums up the roller-coaster ride he’s been on throughout his career.

Another emotional part that the interview highlights is how Jack’s family, especially his young children, spoke to his father who was unemployed for the past year after being released by AFC Bournemouth last season. A series of personal issues such as his son’s poor health also led to the postponement of the comeback he projected onto the soccer field.

Jack Wilshire is one of the biggest ‘what if’ stories in football. The drastic drop in form that Wilshere experienced was very, very rare before at the highest level of football. This really gives readers and football fans something to think about before judging a footballer. The case of Jack Wilshire demonstrates the amount of mental fortitude that footballers must have.

Being a footballer or athlete is a very fragile profession. The smallest injury can have a huge impact on an athlete’s psyche, and getting back up is no easy feat. Wilshire admits that during his ongoing period of personal hardship, the club closed their doors, and not giving him the opportunity to land a contract has really affected his mental state at the moment. Considering early retirement from the sport, and seeking a career elsewhere was already on Wilshire’s mind. If this were to happen, it would be a sad ending for a former football star who today deserves a chance only for the amount of dedication he has given to the sport he loves.

Jack Wilshere’s interview really raises the question of how many athletes are going through the things he’s going through right now, but don’t get the same attention. A similar but not exactly the same case occurred in Germany when Lars and Sven Bender decided to retire and leave the sport at the age of only 31 due to injury. The main difference is Bender brothers were not forced into retirement, but retired of their own accord. Another prominent example of an athlete who had to endure injuries and was close to retiring, was Derrick Rose in the NBA. Rose’s story is very similar to Wilshere’s, as she suffered an injury and her career was taken in a big way.

The Jack Wilshire’s issue actually shows the lack of humanization of footballers because of their status quo. Footballers are human, just like us. It couldn’t stand adversity and could still feel pain. This shows us the lack of attention paid to athletes who are forced to retire or have thoughts of retiring by professionals in the football industry.

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