The ex-Arsenal starlet Jack Wilshere has continued to speak about how his status as a free agent is impacting him mentally.

He long held the perception that he would be judged for doing so based on his wealth and lifestyle.

It’s hard to argue given that some on this site implied that the 29-year-old doesn’t know the meaning of struggle given he earns a salary most can’t relate too.

Anyone who’s had depression or knows someone who has, will know it’s an illness that does not discriminate.

It can play tricks on your brain and leave your mind in a dark place no matter your reality.

You could be surrounded by friends and family, be successful in your career, etc, yet just feel lost and empty.

When you consider Wilshere’s story it’s not a shock that mentally he’s finding his reality hard to process.

He achieved his boyhood dream and grew up being told how talented he was.

Then once made a professional he was predicted to be future face of Arsenal and England.

Xavi and Iniesta praised him, Gerrard labelled him a future captain for his country.

Then, slowly, something he is great at is slowly taken from him.

So, at an age where he should be at his peak form, his career is under threat.

Not because he did anything wrong, simply because over time his body has failed him.

The midfielder disputes this. He feels at Bournemouth he proved his fitness, available for selection most weeks.

He was equally mystified why West Ham released him claiming he had been fit the entire time.

Of course, only the man truly knows. Perhaps any sportsperson would back themselves?

To his credit, in Arsene Wenger’s final year as Gunner’s boss he played well enough to get back into the team and earn a contract offer, having been told at the start of that season a new deal wouldn’t be on the table.

Taking away my love for him, something doesn’t add up.

Taking emotion out of it, if what he says is true, why has he not even had a League One or Two side offer him a pay as you play deal?

Or have they? But his ego sees himself bigger than those divisions?

As much as he has friends in the sport who can’t believe he is unemployed, sometimes your mates are the worst for advice because they tell you what you want to hear.

In football people talk. His last two clubs would have hundreds of staff.

If Mr Wilshere still has that X factor, he would have people giving out references, no more so then Mr Wenger.

The truth is his last two employers didn’t want to prolong his stay.

If he were the Super Jack of even his last year at the Emirates, The Hammers wouldn’t release him, and the Cherries would sign him permanently.

Logically it makes sense that the ankle problems, the surgeries, etc, have robbed him of his previous technique and flair.

The worrying alternative is that he’s correct, he’s physically fine but not in the head.

Those years of chasing and having to prove his fitness having taken its toll?

That the cycle of injury – fitness has exhausted him?

That thoughts of ‘what if’s are just too painful?

Especially when your 10-year-old child loves football and is watching your best bits on YouTube.

Think of any athlete. Talent gets them to the dance but after that it’s the mentally strong who are the best.

Wimbledon, Olympics, Ashes, etc, all decided by the smallest detail. Often decided by who is mentally stronger.

Lose that small percentage and it has a domino effect.

If you listen to Wilshere talk, he sounds like a man broken. He admits speaking to his partner about retiring.

Once you start talking like that, filling your head with negativity it can be a long way back.

The running to stay in shape isn’t something Wilshire enjoys, openly asking ‘ what’s the point?’

These are not the answers an owner would want to hear in an interview.

Yet it’s not his fault.

The once cheeky, happy go lucky person has taken such a physical battering his mind can’t take much more.

I’m glad Arsenal in their own way are trying to look after ‘ one of our own ‘ by allowing him to use their training facilities

At least he could get the buzz of interacting with peers again

As his former captain it cost nothing for Arteta allow him to join in sessions.

The compromise might be to (in the short term) find him a role on the coaching staff.

It’s a cruel irony that after years of struggle, the body is finally willing but maybe the mind is not?

Be kind in the Comments

Dan

This article first appeared on Just Arsenal and was syndicated with permission.

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