Tag Archives: Jack Wilshere

Former Arsenal duo’s harrowing stories are reminder – Footballers are human

Footballers are human. We often forget that.

From a young we idolise players, they are our idols, they are Gods. Put on a pedestal it is almost like they are mythical characters. invincible.

As we grow old, they become less of idols and often more of a punching bag. Someone to shout and scream out to release the tensions of  a bad week. Someone to take your frustrations out. They also give us joy – occasionally.

With high wages and the growing distance between fans and players, it is very easy to treat players like robots instead of humans. We see it on Twitter. People sending vile messages to players that they would simply not send to a “normal” person.

Abuse becomes part of the job.

None of us would go to work to be shouted at and abused all day. Yet for footballers it is part and parcel, with the justification being that they are very well paid.

A few weeks ago we lost Jose Reyes. It was a reminder to all that footballers are human and life is fragile.

This week we have two Arsenal related story that act as a stark reminder that footballers are human too – and no matter what they earn they are still affected by the horrors of life like the rest of us.

n a revealing documentary by Athlete’s Stance, Jack Wilshere talks about how he almost gave up football because of the stress of caring for his young son, who suffered epileptic seizures.

For the first time the West Ham United midfielder revealed that his long absences were not always spent purely in rehab and that Arsène Wenger, his former manager at Arsenal, allowed him more time away from the game to be with his family.

His son, Archie, suffering from seizures and causing Wilshere sleepless nights. During the 2015-16 season, Wilshere was out for eight months with a fractured fibula.

“It was tough to take because I was making my way…

During the time a lot of people were getting on Wilshere’s back. Labelling him “Jack Wheelchair” and accusing him of having a substance abuse problem.

Speaking in the candid documentary with Athlete’s Stance, he said: ‘I’ve had different types of injuries and types of injuries that have affected me different mentally.

‘I always think about one injury and it always plays in my head. It was in 2016, maybe 2015, and I picked up an injury in training. It was tough to take because I was making my way back to where I wanted to be and all of a sudden my four-year-old son was having seizures on the floor.

‘It happened time and time and time again, every day for maybe three or four months and there were times when in the middle of the night I’d be rushing to hospital.

‘Me and my wife would sit up most nights because most of the seizures were happening at night. So we’d put him to bed but most of the time we couldn’t sleep because we didn’t know what was happening with him, so we’d just sit up.’

Wilshere was a 23-year-old dad with a son having unexplained seizures.

Yes, he has the wealth and support that enabled him to not have to worry about the bills, but that becomes secondary to your thoughts when you see a loved one in pain and you can do nothing to help.

In an emotional interview on French television, former Arsenal full back Emmanuel Eboue about his battle with depression and said he had even considered suicide.

The 36-year-old revealed his problems started when he was suspended by Fifa from all football-related activity for one year.

The ban, a result of failing to pay money owed to a former agent, led to the termination of his short-term contract at then Premier League side Sunderland in March 2016.

Without a professional club and shattered financially after a bitter and acrimonious divorce case, he said he had suicidal thoughts.

“Sometimes I would lock myself in my room for three or four days. Just thinking and asking ‘what’s left?’,” Eboue told RMC Sport’s Le Vestiaire (The Locker Room) in France.

“Even today, I still take antidepressants to help me because it is still a long road for me. But here I am hoping others would learn from this.”

“Being away from a competitive football pitch for a year was heartbreaking,” he added.

“I had to train by myself, and I was really ashamed because people looked at me differently.

“Some would say ‘look it’s Eboue, a Uefa Champions League finalist with Arsenal in 2006’, to them it was surprising or shocking.

“Personally, I prefer to train in the morning, but there were people who were training at that time. They’d come to take a picture and post it all over [social media]. So I left to train at night.”

As things got worse he began to lie to his family.

“I couldn’t train during the day and was too embarrassed to stay at home,” he admitted.

“My children always asked me when I was going to return to the field, so whenever I stepped out in the morning, I pretended to go to work.

“Unbeknown to my children I was staying outside and returning home when they were already in bed. I didn’t want them to ask me why they didn’t see me play on television.”

Depression is a real problem faced by footballers.

The Secret Footballer talks about how following a defeat, he would often not go out for days bar going training for fear of abuse from fans. Players end up isolated. Hiding away in a mansion, training in the morning with little to do in the afternoon.

It often becomes even worse when they retire. Having been in the game for decades and with enough money to not work another day in their life in the bank account, they find themselves at 35-years-old without a reason to live.

Suddenly they go from being extremely relevant to completely irrelevant. with friends still working 9-5 and no longer having the routine of training and the dressing room, they find themselves alone with nothing to do.

Being a footballer does not stop a loved one getting ill or dying. It does not stop the dark cloud of depression from floating over.

The stories of Wilshere and Eboue are a reminder that footballers are human. The recent deaths of Jose Reyes and Justin Edinburgh further reminders.

North of the border, Rangers legend Fernando Ricksen has been suffering from has been suffering from motor neurone disease. He is losing his battle with the terminal illness and reports are he is living the last days of his life.

Reyes was 35. Edinburgh 49. Ricksen is 42.

Whatever you’re going through, call the Samaritans free any time, from any phone, on 116 123

Keenos

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Out of the EFL trophy, Laurent Koscielny injured & Jack Wilshere woes continue

Disappointed to see the lads drop out of the EFL Trophy last night.

Whilst I am against academy sides being in the lower league competition, I can see the benefits of getting to see youngsters play against senior players.

Losing 2-1 against Portsmouth is not a bad result. They are flying high in League One this season – having lost just a single league game.

The side Arsenal put was very much a second string youth side, missing the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Julio Pleguezuelo, Ben Sheaf and Xavier Amaechi.

The side contained 7 teenagers, and once you remove Laurent Koscielny – who hobbled off injured, the average age was just 19.

Promotions to the first team of Smith Rowe, Nketiah and Willock meant that a whole host of U18 players were then called up. This then weakened the U18 team, who as a consequence lost 2-1 to Everton.

With 16-year-old Karl Hein on the bench, the squad that travelled down to the South Coast to face Portsmouth had 10 players who were still eligible to be playing in the U18s.

Having seen a dozen youth team graduates make the trip to Ukraine last week, the academy is in a very strong position, with many players performing above their age group.

On Koscielny, it is concerning that he limped off last night.

Following a 45 minute cameo against Derby for the U23s last week, he played 85 minutes last night. It was a step up in his recovery process, with the target being to return to the first team against Qarabag next week in the Europa League dead rubber.

It is not yet clear whether he was taken off as a precaution, or whether he has tweaked something more serious.

At 33-years-old, your body does recover slower and is more susceptible to niggling injuries during recovery. If this turns out to be something more serious, it could be the end of his Arsenal career.

On injuries, it was announced earlier this week that Jack Wilshere has picked up yet another ankle injury just as he returned to first team action following an injury to his other ankle.

Wilshere had missed West Ham‘s last nine Premier League matches due to an ankle injury before making his comeback last Saturday against Newcastle.

After playing only five minutes against Newcastle on the weekend, he had to be rested for the Cardiff game because of an ankle pain.

This season he has appeared for West Ham just 5 times – starting 4 games and playing 339 minutes.

When Arsenal fans announced he was to be let go on a free transfer, a lot of fans responded in anger. Wilshere’s continuation of a poor injury record justifies Arsenal’s decision.

The decision to let Wilshere go is ever more supported in hindsight with the development of Matteo Guendouzi.

Had 26-year-old Wilshere played, he would have taken minutes away from the teenage Frenchman.

19-year-old Guendouzi has started 12 games this season and the extra play time has sped up his development.

Wilshere is the teenage star of yesteryear. Guendouzi is the teenage start of today.

Keenos

Out with the old, in with the new

March 2006, Arsenal v Juventus in the Champions League. ‘The King is Dead! Long Live the King!’ was the first line of the match report as an 18-year Cesc Fabregas dominated a 29-year old Patrick Vieira in the middle of the park.

This Champions League tussle had gone worse than Vieira could ever have anticipated. Humiliated by his old side, booed by his old fans, the Juventus player’s performance had gone some way to vindicating Arsene Wenger’s decision last summer to say a sad farewell.

You know you’ve been slow to react when Robert Pires, not exactly known for his tackling, pinches the ball from behind with a neat sliding challenge. That ignomy befell Vieira on the halfway line just before half-time and if that made him feel bad what happened next would only have made things much worse. The resulting move was both simple and devastating. Pires to Thierry Henry, Henry to Fabregas.

The 18 year-old slipped the ball confidently past the stranded Gianluigi Buffon before ecstatically wheeling away to salute the West Stand. Over on the other side of the pitch Vieira stood motionless.

The match not only justified Wenger’s decision to finally allow Vieira to leave after about 5 years of flirting with Real Madrid – the Frenchman was a shadow of his former self; but also vindicated his decision to replace him with a teenage Spaniard.

Not content with just a goal that night, Cesc also added an assist as he dominated the midfield.

Fabregas, by this stage, was totally bossing the match, linking up constantly with Henry in the attacking third. It was beautiful to watch: two world-class talents in riveting form.

The promise soon turned into something solid, something wonderfully inventive when Fabregas embarked on yet another burst into the box. Once Alexander Hleb had spotted the run, the result was almost a foregone conclusion. Drawing Buffon and two grasping defenders, the composed teenager slipped the ball sideways to the waiting Henry. Goal number two and a very useful cushion to take to Turin.

Now Jack Wilshere was certainly no Patrick Vieira. Not even close, and Matteo Guendouzi is some way off 18-year old Cesc Fabregas – but then has any teenage central midfielder ever done what he has done? but the comparison is clear and obvious.

In the summer, 26-year old Wilshere decided to call time on his Arsenal career as Arsenal failed to meet his terms. The Englishman had been beset with injuries for years, and like with Vieira, many felt it was time for him to leave.

Joining the club was 18-year old Guendouzi from Lorient in the French second division. Not really seen as a replacement for Wilshere, a few good performances in pre-season pushed him up the pecking order to the point where he started against both Manchester City and Chelsea – games Wilshere would have been in the starting XI for.

Guendouzi has quickly become a fans favourite and against West Ham will face the old Prince of Highbury, Wilshere.

Wilshere has already spoken about how he has a point to prove that Arsenal were wrong to get rid of him. Interesting use of language there that the Englishman sees him leaving on a free transfer as Arsenal’s decision, not his.

Young Guendouzi, meanwhile, will be motivated to show that Arsenal were correct in letting Wilshere leave, and looking at younger, fitter players.

Since he joined the club, Arsenal have released Josh Dasilva to Brentford.

Dasilva was rated highly by many of those that had seen him, but he is 6 months older than Guendouzi, who is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order.

Like with Fabregas, it is easy to forget that Guendouzi is barely an adult. He only turned 18-years old in April this year.

Against West Ham, and against Wilshere, he will have a chance to have his Fabregas moment. To show that he is better than the man he replaced.

Like Vieira defined the beginning of the Arsene Wenger era, Guendouzi  could be the man to kick start the Unai Emery years.

Keenos

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