It’s up to Jack Wilshere to save his career now

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It was all good a couple years ago. Jack Wilshere was one of the brightest prospects in world football. He was Arsenal’s great hope. He’d gone toe to toe with Xavi and Bastian Schweinsteiger and walked away from the matchups with the respect of two of the world’s best. He had the world at his feet.

Fast forward just a couple years, and his career’s in serious jeopardy.

Wilshere is indisputably talented. He’s got every tool to succeed (minus the unfortunate Arsenal trait of being forged from crystalline glass). He’s technically sound, a surprisingly decent tackler, and his footballing intelligence is unmatched in England’s current crop of players. The problem isn’t on the pitch, or even really with his frequent injuries: it’s his inability to stay out of trouble on top of everything else.

At 24 years old, he’s still not even in the prime of his career. He’s young enough to still be a world class player, but he’s too old to be making the kinds of foolish decisions for which he’s constantly in the newspapers. Getting kicked out of clubs and caught smoking cigarettes is a major red flag for any professional athlete, even one who’s performing on the pitch week in and week out. Causing problems when you can’t even step on the field due to injury? That’s unacceptable.

The injuries aren’t just a bad luck thing either. When you fail to take care of your body, it breaking down isn’t simply misfortune. He’s played a role in his injuries too, not just some cruel gods who haunt Arsenal.

The good thing for Wilshere is there’s still time. Again, he’s only 24 years old. This year is an opportunity for him to get his mind right, stay on the field for more than half a season, showcase the ability that made him beloved by so many Arsenal and England supporters, and repay the faith Arsene Wenger’s shown him over the years. He won’t be able to lean on Arsenal anymore, though. His soft landing is gone. It’s on him to make this work.

Is Jack Wilshere a professional soccer player, or is he just a guy who likes to party? It’s time for him to decide.