Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 30.
In a statement shared on his social media on Friday afternoon, Wilshere reflected on “an unbelievable journey” but admitted that his career had”been slipping away” in recent years.
The 34-cap England international made 197 appearances for Arsenal, having made his debut as a 16-year-old. He won two FA Cups with the north London club, before departing in 2018.
Injuries plagued Wilshere throughout his time at the Emirates and his dreadful luck with fitness continued during spells with West Ham, Bournemouth and Danish side AGF Aarhus.
Wilshere, who played for England at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, managed just 36 career appearances after leaving Arsenal.
Despite representing several other clubs, there’s no denying where Wilshere’s loyalties lie as the die-hard Arsenal fan signed off his retirement statement by writing “COYG” – shorthand for “Come On You Gunners”.
I’ve lived my dream. Thank you all ❤️ pic.twitter.com/rB5gnyyUlK— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) July 8, 2022
A member of the Arsenal academy since the age of nine, Wilshere clearly has the club in his blood – something he proved in emphatic fashion last year when he absolutely refused to wear the shirt of the Gunners’ arch-rivals.
During an appearance on talkSPORT back in November, hosts Andy Goldstein and Darren Bent assured Wilshere that he would break the Guinness World Record for the most football shirts worn at one time if was able to put on 31 at once.
In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth. The actual record stood at a colossal 260 shirts. The entire segment was a prank by Goldstein and Bent to try and get Wilshere to wear a Tottenham shirt.
Blissfully unaware that he was being set up, Wilshere piled on the first 30 jerseys at pace, presumably sweltering under the ever-growing mass of fabric.
As uncomfortable as it must have been, Wilshere was game for the challenge of breaking a ‘world record’ in support of The Bobby Moore Foundation. His mood soon changed, however, when a smirking Goldstein handed him a perfectly white Spurs shirt as his 31st jersey.
Wilshere’s reaction still makes us chuckle to this day. You can check it out below.
Watch: Jack Wilshere storms off after being asked to wear a Spurs shirt for fake ‘world record’
“No, no. It ain’t happening,” declares Wilshere as he pulls away from the Spurs shirt with a look of disgust on his face. He is then equally unimpressed by Goldstein’s plea that he should wear the jersey “for the sake of the children watching”.
“I don’t want a world record,” states Wilshere firmly, at which point Goldstein completely loses his composure and is forced to admit that there is no record at stake and that the whole thing was a stunt to get the former Arsenal man into Spurs colours.
A fuming Wilshere doesn’t see the funny side though, storming off the set, before having to be persuaded to return.
By way of an apology, Wilshere is eventually presented with an enormous version of the England home shirt he wore during his Three Lions days.
No matter what the circumstances, don’t ever expect to see Wilshere donning a Spurs jersey. He’s Arsenal through and through.
The Gunners paid tribute to their former star following his retirement announcement, reflecting upon his majestic Champions League performance against Barcelona in 2011 and his 2013 wonder goal v Norwich in particular.
Our Jack…— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 8, 2022
For 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 game against Barca to 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 goal against Norwich, and everything in between – we love you ❤️
A star on the pitch and a supporter off it. You lived the dream.
Congratulations on an incredible career, @JackWilshere 👊 https://t.co/Dm8Yqbsfyb pic.twitter.com/dpPLLqlb01
“Our Jack,” the club wrote on Twitter. “From that game against Barca to that goal against Norwich, and everything in between – we love you.
“A star on the pitch and a supporter off it. You lived the dream. Congratulations on an incredible career @jackwilshere.”
He may have hung up his boots, but Wilshere still fully intends to remain a part of the sport he loves moving forward.
“Now is the right time to close this chapter but I still have so much to give to the game and I am excited about what the future holds,” he explained in the closing paragraph of his farewell message.
It sounds as though Wilshere is open to exploring any new opportunities that come his way in football, so long as they aren’t offered by Tottenham, of course!