Jack Wilshere has again been photographed boozing and smoking, in what stands as a growing amount of evidence that he is not interested in becoming a top footballer.
“Wilshere has got the personality, the character and the quality to accept responsibility, to accept the pressure. I foresee a fantastic career for him."
They were the comments of England manager Roy Hodgson, dated February 2013 in an interview with reporters before the Three Lions beat Brazil 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.
That was six months before he was photographed smoking outside a London nightclub; an incident that drew plenty of criticism from football fans. After posting a picture of Zinedine Zidane smoking on his Twitter account, he admitted his mistake and said he wouldn't be smoking again.
Arsene Wenger himself took an unusually stern stance on the matter, exclaiming: "I disagree completely with that behaviour. I don't know really what happened, so I will need to have a chat with him about that."
The incident was slowly confining itself to history before his latest scandal turned up.
The pictures, surfacing on Monday morning, claim to show Wilshere not only having alcohol poured into his mouth, but also taking a drag from his old friend: the cigarette. It's further evidence that Wilshere still hasn't got the attitude to make it to the top, instead prioritising his social life.
Training & lifestyle
All footballers work hard, including Wilshere, during the season and deserve their privacy and their holidays in the summer. But to make it to the top, every aspect of a footballer's life should revolve around their prized asset: their body.
No one is saying that a cigarette is going to harm Wilshere's chances of winning Ballon d'Or, but just by smoking it, he is sending a message to Wenger and everyone at Arsenal that he is a lad first and a footballer second.
The best footballers in the world aren't just those with the most talent, but those who work hardest in training. You see such results in the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, who were never seen as potential world beaters but worked tirelessly on their physiques over a number of years as well as their skills to become top footballers.
Type 'Cristiano Ronaldo smoking' into Google and what comes up? Nothing. Same result with Bale. These are players who, amongst others, are only interested in getting better at football. That doesn't include smoking, it only involves hard work.
These are the players who reach the top. Those with mere talent, who worked so hard through their youth, only to take their foot off the accelerator once they make it half way up the ladder, don't. Needless to say, Wilshere, as of yet, has proven to fall firmly in the latter.
For Wilshere, he could not be under a worse manager when it comes to his seemingly unshakeable habit. Wenger has the reputation of being a harsh nutritionist with his players, famously banning chocolate in his first training session after becoming Arsenal manager.
Wenger has already showed his disdain for the habit and is likely to be angered further by Wilshere's latest misdemeanour. If he is feeling harsh, he could end up dropping Wilshere from his plans altogether.
The Arsenal manager is moving Arsenal forward. Loosening the purse strings for big signings like Alexis Sanchez, the Frenchman wants to fast track this Arsenal side into a new era of success. It looks increasingly like Wilshere will not play a pivotal role in those plans.
Aaron Ramsey is now firmly in front of the Englishman in the pecking order while Arsenal continue to be linked with moves for the likes of Sami Khedira and Morgan Schneiderlin. Where does Wilshere fit into that team? Quite simply, he doesn't. Not as it stands at least. The bench looks like Wilshere's new position and if his current form continues, that's where he'll stay.
Lack of development
Wilshere has proved he has the ability to reach the top, but, as Paul Scholes infamously pointed out, the 22-year-old has failed to develop since his breakthrough season in 2010/11.
You can attribute that partly to fortune. Wilshere of course spent the best part of two years on the sidelines with an ankle injury and plenty of time since with similar afflictions, but is his trouble with injury something to do with his lifestyle as well?
The club medical staff are not miracle workers and they must rely on the player to take care of themselves as well. Wilshere does not seem the character to hold back if he feels a slight twang. He is full-on, in your face and ready to keep going until that twang becomes a tear, or worse, a break.
When Wilshere emerged from the Arsenal youth academy, Gunners fans were hopeful that they had found their answer to Chelsea's John Terry. Here was a boy who was not only a talented player, but a born leader, with Arsenal blood running through his veins.
Stars were leaving left, right and centre, but no one feared the loss of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, because Wilshere was on his way. That hasn't happened. It still could, he's only 22 and has plenty of time to develop, but it is looking more and more likely that he will become more of a Ray Parlour than a Liam Brady. Good, not great.
Arsenal are moving forward. They have money, a growing number of world-class stars and ambition to win big prizes. Wenger hasn't got too long left as a manager and is looking for success now. He will be fielding his best players. Right now, Wilshere isn't one of them, and as he attends pool parties, while his teammate Aaron Ramsey returns to training in preparation for the new season, he never will be.
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