Arsenal and England star Jack Wilshere was captain of Arsenal at the tender age of 19. Unfortunately his early career has been stalled by a series of ankle problems that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted today remains an ongoing problem and concern. The image of Wilshere limping from the field is one that has littered too many Arsenal matches and has restricted his international cap tally to a mere twelve appearances.
Many a promising football career has been ravaged by injury. Michael Owen never recovered from a series of hamstring injuries suffered early in his career and found his best days behind him by his mid-twenties. It is also widely thought that although Brazilian striker Ronaldo was world class, an injury-free career may have seen him considered one of the best players of all time.
Wilshere continues to stutter as his career looks like flourishing. Opponents know that a strong challenge will hurt him and this leads to such challenges. No pure football fan would be happy to see such a rare talent who plays with such flair not reach his potential, but it is appropriate that questions are asked as to whether he can reach the heights his potential suggests. It may be the case that his ankle injury will be a frustrating footnote to the rest of his career, which will affect not only Arsenal but England fans too.
When Arsene Wenger smashed Arsenal’s transfer record to buy Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil for £42.5 million I wondered whether this was an admission that Wilshere was no longer seen as the player to life Arsenal simply by being on the pitch. Ozil has taken that role, but Wenger will hope that Wilshere and Ramsey will offer classy companionship in the middle of the field for Ozil. They certainly have the talent.
Arsenal fans will be praying that Jack Wilshere can quickly put his injury problems firmly behind him at long last. There comes a point where potential must realise itself and at 22 years old Wilshere is expected to now deliver consistent and match-winning performances on a regular basis. Extended time on the sidelines will only add to the fear that he may never reach the heights that his flair and talent suggested.
That would be a shame for Football as a whole.