London, July 8 (IANS) Former England and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere on Friday announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 30.
Wilshere became Arsenal’s youngest league debutant when he featured aged 16 and 256 days in 2008 after coming through the club’s youth academy. The midfielder, who was hampered by a series of injuries, won the FA Cup twice in successive seasons with Arsenal in 2014 and 2015, before joining Bournemouth and then West Ham.
He returned to the Cherries on a short-term deal in January 2021 and also had a spell at Danish Superliga club AGF. After making his first England appearance in 2010, Wilshere won 34 caps and was part of the 2014 World Cup squad and Euro 2016.
“It has been an unbelievable journey filled with so many incredible moments and I feel privileged to have experienced all that I did during my career,” Wilshere said in his retirement announcement on Twitter.
“From being the little boy kicking a ball around in the garden to captaining my beloved Arsenal and playing for my country at a World Cup. I have lived my dream. In truth, it has been difficult to accept that my career has been slipping away in recent times due to reasons outside of my control whilst feeling that I have still had so much to give.
“Having played at the very highest level I have always held such huge ambitions within the game and if I am truthful, I did not envisage being in this position at times. However, having had time to reflect and talk with those closest to me, I know that now is the right time and despite the difficult moments, I look back on my career with great pride in what I have achieved.
“Playing at the very highest level with some of the best players in the world, winning FA Cups, captaining my club and representing my country were beyond my wildest dreams when I was a small boy growing up in Hitchin. I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had, but none of it would have been possible if it wasn’t for the love and support of so many people,” he added.
Wilshere paid tribute to former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and his staff for giving him a chance.
“Words will never do justice to the love and thanks I have for the Boss, Arsene, Pat Rice and Boro Primorac. Without your belief, support and guidance from the very first day we met I wouldn’t have been able to become part of the Arsenal family. I’m forever grateful to you all,” he said.
“To the best supporters on the planet, all of you Arsenal fans, thank you all from the bottom of my heart. To play for you all has been a privilege. You’ve always made me feel supported and I hope I did you proud representing your club. I’ll never forget how you always backed me and I’ll forever be a Gooner,” he added.