England icon Gary Lineker has given his backing to Jack Wilshere after the Arsenal star was heavily criticised by fans and pundits alike after being pictured with a cigarette.
21-year-old Wilshere, a truly gifted playmaker who has long since been heralded by many as the next messiah of English football, incurred the wrath of the media and his manager Arsene Wenger after being photographed holding the cigarette outside a London nightclub last week.
The Stevenage-born prodigy has held his hands up following the incident, apologising profusely and insisting that he is not a regular smoker.
Despite the large amount of criticism Wilshere has received over the past week, former Everton and Spurs star Lineker has praised the midfielder's reaction to the whole saga and has insisted that it it is not exactly the biggest crime.
Speaking ahead of England's vital World Cup qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley on Friday Lineker, who won 80 senior international caps during a distinguished career, told talkSPORT: “He’s a class player and has had a tough week in terms of publicity with the smoking thing.
“He’s handled it pretty well, saying that it was a mistake, that he shouldn’t have done it and that he’ll sort himself out.
“But let’s not get carried away with it, it’s not the crime of the century.It’s something most young people do at some stage before they’re sensible enough to realise it’s not going to do you any good.
“In my day a lot of footballers smoked before we really got educated about the dangers of it."
Indeed rather than being particularly concerned by the smoking, when it comes to Wilshere, Lineker appears to be far more concerned by his apparent fragility with regards to injury.
“He’s a class player and he’s one of our young players that could emerge to be world class, my only concern about him is that he tends to be quite vulnerable in the ankle area," he added.