If Jack Wilshere’s life was a movie (starring Arsene Wenger)

Jack Wilshere – The Movie by Dan Smith

I wanted to pay my respects to Jack Wilshere, who was released by West Ham this week. He’s made it clear that it was the Hammers choice not to play him, and nothing to do with him not being fit. He maintains he can still perform at a high level.

Well we like to say, ‘Once a Gooner – always a Gooner’ so I just wanted to reflect on, for me, a sad story…

If Jack Wilshere’s life was a movie maybe it would be one of those films which jumps between times.

16th Feb 2011
It could start with him walking off the Emirates pitch with 60-000 people singing his name, Iniesta and Xavi both whispering in his ear how impressed they were by him, Arsenal having just beaten Barcelona, and it a question of not if the Gunners were winning a trophy that season but how many.

So we are starting our film with a high, cue dramatic music.

Then …….5 years later

Jack is sat in a grubby caffe looking at the view of sandbanks beach. He observes an old couple walking their dog. There are worse places to be in England than Bournemouth on a hot sunny day, but it’s opposite to the hustle and bustle of London life, which he grew up with. He has his agent with him who is over excited, trying to convince his client this is the loan move which gets him back in the first team for both Arsenal and England.

You see his girlfriend locked into her phone. Not that she does not care but has heard this routine for years now and is worried the mental impact it’s having on the father of her children chasing this impossible Dragon.

Mr Wilshere sneaks outside for a phone call, final reassurance he is doing the right thing moving to the South Coast for 12 months. He needs to hear his voice. He needs to be told it’s goodbye for now but not forever. He needs it promised that there is a job waiting for him if he proves his fitness …….

Mr Wenger reassures him that this is all part of his development and gives him his word that he truly believes the player will return to the levels of his former glory. There’s nice romantic music as Arsene ends the call and looks around his office. The film morphs into a montage…

There’s a photo of him meeting Jack’s parents when the 9-year-old signed school boy forms, the manager shaking the teenagers hand when being introduced to the 2009 FA Youth Cup Winners, there’s a present from the player – a 2010 England shirt worn on his first cap. There’s a reflective smile remembering those FA Cup celebrations.

As the Frenchman reads his emails though, the music turns darker. He deletes a message from Ivan Gazidis which enquires has he told Master Wilshere yet? Arsenal won’t be extending his contract!!!!! Mr Wenger hits delete with his mouse and leans back in his chair.

Throughout this movie Mr Wenger is a curious character. He’s not a hero, yet not a villain
He is one of those genius personalities written to have shades of grey. We learn that due to the father/son like relationship with super Jack he doesn’t want to break his heart by telling him the truth. He sees no harm in the midfielder believing he can still be as good as he was, as after all, it’s not impossible.

Yet one lie has led to another lie and now he’s become morally conflicted (just for dramatic effect lol). He’s used his power to have medical experts sacked when they threatened to tell the truth, that Mr Wenger was purposely misleading the patient in terms of how severe his injuries were.

We get flashbacks of Jack being reassured by his boss in the summer of 2011 that he would be back in February. When the room is clear, the doctor says, ’tell him the truth, he’s out for a year, he needs to know he may never be the same.’

Mr Wenger replies: ‘It would crush him!’

We get a quick glimpse into how the player would get a setback every time he was on the brink of a comeback. His mind willing, his body not…

19th April 2018
The Wilshere family are sat round the table worried because Jack hasn’t come home. He walks in, smiling. He said he just needed time to be on his own, that these were happy tears. That he had gotten off the phone to Mr Wenger and he WAS being offered an extension. Mr Wenger has apparently used his influence to convince the board to pay a pay as you play deal, heavily incentivised. While he knew he could get more money guaranteed elsewhere, this was the club he loved. The years of mental and physical pain was worth it. He had done it.

He kisses his partner on the head and says: ‘Finally …. I did it!’

The next morning Jack gets a text ……. Mr Wenger is leaving Arsenal!

3 months later
Jack Wilshere pulls up in the Colney car park and looks around. He’s saying goodbye. He has a meeting with a manager in truth, he’s never heard of before …. a Unai Emery? He’s lost all hope and has resigned himself that this meeting won’t go well!

He knew that part of Arsenal’s offer was based on the trust that Mr Wenger had in him. With his mentor now gone, he had zero hope left. He walks inside and is greeted by a ‘good ebening’…

I want my movie to end with zero conclusion. Let the viewers guess themselves how it ends and anticipate the next chapter.

The epilogue updates us to the current day …….

Jack Wilshere would sign for West Ham United in July 2018. After two years he only managed 16 appearances in the League. His contract was terminated in October 2020.

He’s currently in negotiations to play in Scotland with Rangers.

Dan Smith


  1. Not sure why so many Arsenal fans want wilshere back it’s been proved over the last few years that he cannot stay fit and spends more time on the treatment table then on the pitch as much as I would love to see him back playing regularly it’s not for Arsenal maybe Rangers would be a good move for him but wish him all the best wherever he goes!!

  2. A Really good Story article Dan. Initially, when I saw the Jack and West ham situation, I couldn’t care less about what was going on there as I didn’t want him back at the Emirates but Reading this article and in retrospect of how good Jack is, I don’t think bringing a free player back to the Emirates is such a bad idea altogether. If Arsenal offered him a wage of say 30 to 40k per game he plays for us with other smaller incentives, I’m certain Wilshere will jump at that offer coming from Arsenal, a club he loves and has been at since he was a child.
    He’s home grown, and actually a win-win for everyone as we know how talented Wilshere is, reminds me of Mario gotze with the injury problem.

    1. Kstix
      I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on JW
      I suppose you have to wonder if there would be a genuine opportunity for occasional games. Jack sounds as though he wants regular football and I can’t see that happening at Arsenal
      I hope he gets another chance where he can showcase his ability. Someone wrote the other day that a less physical league might suit him

      1. That’s true SueP, a less physical league might suit him better but at his age he doesn’t have a very long career, maybe 5 years at the most before he moves to China or MLS, Arsenal can still find him very useful especially if he shows flashes of his brilliant displays for us at a time when we’re short of creative players in the team.

    2. He didnt play more than 10 games a season for West Ham. You want to give 30-40k a week to someone we know will be out 90% of the season? That decision would have absolutely nothing to do with football. We’d essentially be hiring a new mascot/cheerleader. Let’s be real here…

      1. How do you know for certain that he’ll miss 90% of the games. Are you his doctor. He even came out to say he’s been fit for the past 8 months at westham, sometimes(like Ozil, you just don’t fit in the manager’s plans. Period), 30k per game is 300k for 10 games, not even up to how how much Ozil earns per week without even playing.
        If wilshere gives us 10 games a season, that’s class. We all know how good he is, even Gerrard tipped him to be England captain for years. Not forgetting praises from xavi and iniesta.

        1. You’re comparing Ozil wages to potential Wilshere wages, lmao. And yes, using past injury records to determine how useful a player will be is not unreasonable. You think scouts dont do this? You want to bring back an injury prone player just for sentimental reasons. Not footballing reasons. It’s ridiculous. Wake up. Jack doesn’t get into most EPL sides nowadays. He’s history and Arsenal dont need him and have never relied on him.

        2. And how many of those past 8 months were in quaratine? The other months he simply couldnt get into the side because he was either not good enough, or Moyes never relied on him. What does that tell you about the quality of player we’d be getting. Please give an actual reason why we should waste our time trying to bring Jack back? What are his West Ham stats?? Nothing impressive at all. What are his Bournemouth stats even, absolutely nothing except average. When was the last time he’s even had an amazing game for us? Have to go back to 13/14 season my friend…. Your reasoning is all sentimental.

          1. And last but not least, Xavi/Iniesta praise was DECADE AGO. It’s fair to look at this situation and say things did not work out.

  3. Fine player when he played, shame we never got to see the best of him for reasons other than fitness/injuries. Still perfect for a “pay as you play” scenario, would walk into the team any day over Ozil (Jack’s worst match is much better than Mesut’s finest ) or Cabellos or Willock. Good luck Jack and hope your dreams and ambitions are fulfilled before you call it a day. That reminds me of who who shamelessly collects his weekly pay cheque without any contributions, while Jack mutually terminated his contract when the club deemed him unfit to their plans.
    Come back stronger Jack!

    1. I think we did get to see the best of him, I mean has he played better elsewhere? If you’re suggesting that he could have achieved more, then of course, and as you say he’s still worthy of a “pay as you play” deal.
      I didn’t know about his possible move to Rangers and really hope it comes off for him as my assumption was that he’d probably stay fit at London Colney until he got himself a new club.

    2. @Loose Cannon,I sincerely don’t mean any offense but you do understand that “mutually agreed”doesn’t mean free,West Ham decided to pay the one year left in his contract (100 000/week),paying off Ozil would require the club to come up with over 18M which I doubt they could,not only that but to be able to bring a new quality player in,Ozil and one more player needed to be sold,if you consider how much we financially struggled during this transfer window ,adding to that an extra 18M upfront I don’t see how only blaming Ozil on this occasion makes any sense??

    3. He never got near West Ham lineup even when he was fit. Mesut, Ceballos and Willock can all play circles around current Wilshere.

    1. No. Welbeck is no gooner.
      He is a United academy product. We don’t have that emotional attachment to him like we do with Wilshere. He came through our academy.

      Welbeck can go back to United as they need all the help they can get at the moment.

      Thank you very much.

    2. @Siamois, while we’re at it, can we also add Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Vermalean and a certain About Diaby.
      Imagine where someone is passing a comment that Wilshire’s worst game was better than Ozil’s best. Rubbish.
      Much as I like Wilshere, I think some fans need to stop all the lousy sentiments.
      Dude isn’t good enough for the Premiership. The league is too physical for him. Moreover, his style of play doesn’t make it any easier for him. Maybe La Liga or Ligue 1.

  4. Wenger was good in protecting young players. If it was Wenger, Gouendouzi would still be playing for Arsenal. Wenger knew that fame and money can destroy these teenagers, so he’d guide them accordingly

    1. I thought I read an article on JA a short while back that AW admitted to overplaying Wilshere – but that was Wilshere was such a good player.

      1. He made a mistake in that regards, probably because of Ramsey early injuries, rosicky and Diaby injuries too, Wilshire was our only consistent player staying fit and delivery consistently.
        It a shame, am so gutted at his unlucky injury, and since, he never got back to his former.

        His bad habit too had an effect, I mean he and Szesny, and world cup saga with English team. The arrogance, the teenage ego (not as bad as Guendozi though) .

        I wish him well but I think wenger really didn’t manage his well, like he did with Fab.
        And most of wenger players that left were not good enough in their new club

        1. But wasn’t it wenger that always played youngsters from the age of 16?
          I don’t get it.
          Wenger in his Emirates era was known for buying and playing youngsters. He was criticised for not having enough experience in our side. “The youth Project”.

          It only changed in 2010 when the Cesc era came to an end.

  5. But if I am not wrong but correct. I think I once read Jack Wilshere saying he is West Ham fan from his childhood.

    1. Yeah, it’s quite well known and surprising considering that he lived just up the A1 at Stevenage as a child.

  6. That era we had the likes of Cesc, Rosicky, Nasri, Diaby, Wilshere etc we played some of the most beautiful football in the EPL but at the same time we were so naive, lazy and weak when it came to defending.

    Even without winning any trophies back then I always looked forward to watching them play football.

    On Wilshere. My goodness, what a waste of talent. He is like Diaby and Rosicky. Always injured. RVP was going the same way but fortunes turn for him in the end.

    1. Those guys weren’t injury prone before we sign them. Was that a coincidence or bad luck? 50% of our players then hardly stay fit for half a season

      1. That is such an interesting point
        I wonder if there is a league table of which clubs have the worst injury records?

      2. We were sk bad injury-wise back then.
        I always knew we would be missing at least 4 key players at any given time.

        But I remember we got a new physio from Germany or something like that and he promised to get rid of this problem. He did fix it for the most part. Only Rosicky, Wilshere and Diaby could not be redeemed.

      3. I think it’s from the way we play. Arsenal plays at the time from the Midfield and Whilshere, Diaby and Rosicky’s kind of game holds the ball too much. Nasri does that too, but his quick feet helped him avoid most tackles. And it was those deadly tackles that ruined thier carriers.

  7. I hope you already know DAN that I have much respect for your ability to put words together in an intresting way. That is a gift not given to many. However as a realist – and even though I enjoyed this fantasy on one level – it left me rather unsatisified, as it was essentially your own fantasy from your own imagination.
    Now to todays reality , which is what I am always most concernd with. Wilshere is a well paid wealthy young man whose tragedy was that his body could not stay fit,thus destroying almost before it begun, what COULD have been a stellar career.
    As a player long ago regarded as finished at our level , at least by realists , he will probably keep trying, within his limits, to play pro football at whatever level is still available to him.
    I have pity for all in life who , for whatever reason fail to reach their potential. I have though less pity than some others for already wealthy young men whose life is still before them, even if real top level football is behind him.

    My REAL pity is reserved for unfortunate, poor and disadvantaged people the world over; those who live in the third world, who go hungry and have no access to clean water or education,etc.

    It puts Jacks problems into perspective. If that says something about me too, then so be it, but it remains the truth of how I am and how I think.

      1. Thanks Pires but please don’t misunderstand the final point I made.
        I know I ought to have more sympathy than I do for Wilshere and even for rich, though unlucky injured players But I need to be wholly truthful and the whole truth is that I don’t have THAT much sympathy. It is NOT something to be proud of and I do know that, though am powerless to alter that fact! Truth even – or in fact especially – in ones own failings is of vital importance!
        We are all fallible humans and it is important sometimes to remind ourselves, in our own way, of that fact! Humility does NOT come easily to me , though I really wish it could.

  8. Interesting read, but I’ll never quite understand many fans love affair with Wilshere. His whole career is based off of one good game. Emery was right to not give him another contract, even a pay as you play just sounds like a desperate attempt to keep a player who is constantly injured and doesnt contribute much at the club for personal reasons (likeability), more than actual footballing ones. Good luck to him at Rangers, and shame his career turned out the way he did, but the current crop of English talent we have has already done more than Jack did for us in truth…

  9. Meaningful ,poignant words Jon.Your penultimate paragraph should be used to highlight how fortunate the large majority of people who live in the United Kingdom are in relation to millions of others.Having witnessed countless Covid related programmes on TV I am saddened by the appalling attitude of some of the general public,politicians and last but not least, the media, who take an ignorant hard line and find fault in every conceivable measure introduced with a view to saving lives.They all need to take a close look at themselves.Sorry to digress from football issues but I wanted to get it off my chest.

  10. On JW, there is no doubt he was highly talented, but sad to say, he was responsible for a number of the injuries he suffered by diving into tackles when the was never a chance of him winning the ball by fair means.It was all or nothing with JW who should not be brought back to Arsenal in my opinion.We need to focus on developing our talented up and coming youngsters and should not contemplate turning the clock back on this occasion.

  11. I’d love to see Jack back, but any player needs a good run of games to get match fit and sharp, and history shows that his body just won’t let that happen. No player can just come on for one match and make it happen (unless of course you’re Thierry Henry and come on in the FA cup and score the winning goal…). I wonder if he comes to Colney to train he could be useful around the youngsters though.

  12. Fabulous write-up;
    Supreme imagination with how the plots were crafted.
    Pls, let us know when the movie gets released.😆😉

  13. People forget his off pitch life style as well which were also a destraction. Having 2 kids before age 21, night club incidents, smoking and inhaling those baloons all made him loose focus on the game.

    Great talent but was not disciplined

    I pray that Saka don’t sway but remain focused on what he wants to achieve

  14. It seems like we loose some of our best players to injury and for good. Roziski, Diabi Welshere, Carzola, Ramsi

  15. Fabulous write-up;
    Supreme imagination with the movie’s plot. Pls, let us know when the movie gets released.😆😉

  16. Sad story but one of the best articles I’ve read here. Hard not to feel sorry for potential but life happened

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