Former Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere has announced his retirement from professional football.
The news comes just over 24 hours after the news that he has left Danish club AGF after less than five months and is now “contemplating his next step” in his career.
Wilshere became the Gunners’ youngest league debutant aged 16 and 256 days in 2008 after progressing through the club’s academy.
Hampered by a series of injuries, the midfielder won the FA Cup twice in a row with Arsenal in 2014 and 2015 before joining Bournemouth and then West Ham.
Wilshere returned to the Cherries on short notice in January 2021 and also played for Danish Superliga club AGF.
After making his debut for England in 2010, Wilshere won 34 caps and was part of the 2014 World Cup squad.
“It’s been an incredible journey full of incredible moments and I feel privileged to have experienced everything that I have experienced throughout my career,” Wilshere said in his resignation statement on Twitter.
“From being a little boy playing football in the garden to captaining my beloved arsenal to playing for my country at a World Cup. I’ve lived my dream.
“In truth, while I felt I had so much to give, it’s been difficult to accept that my career has been slipping away lately for reasons beyond my control.
“Having played at the highest level, I always had such high ambitions in the game and if I’m honest, at times I didn’t imagine being in that position.
Wilshere’s top five career moments
- That evening against Barcelona – Arsenal faced one of the best Barcelona sides ever, with a 19-year-old Wilshere tasked with taking on Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Against brisk tiki-taka football, Wilshere displayed guts, trickery and an equal measure of technical cunning as Arsene Wenger’s side won 2-1 on one of the best nights in their recent history.
- Goal of the season against Norwich – Wilshere hasn’t scored many goals in his career but when he did it was special. His best in the Premier League was a beautiful one-touch team goal against Norwich in 2013, where he combined beautifully with Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, who won goal of the season – an award he gave a year later for a superb performance against them won West Bromwich Albion.
- Dominate Brazil – Wilshere made his England debut in 2010 but had to wait three years to become a regular for the Three Lions. He was named man of the match against Brazil in 2013 to assert himself on the international stage and played a key role in England’s opening 2-1 win – the Three Lions’ first win over the Selecao in almost a quarter of a century. The biggest hint that he would be England’s future.
- Helping Arsenal win the FA Cup – It’s the second half of extra time in the 2014 FA Cup final and Arsenal are parting ways after a 2-2 draw with Hull. Wilshere came on as a substitute during the short Wembley break and contributed to the winning goal within four minutes. Wilshere’s sharp pass fell into the path of Yaya Sanogo, who played the ball into Olivier Giroud. The French striker’s flick found Aaron Ramsey in the box who stabbed the winner home. Wilshere’s intervention helped Arsenal end a nine-year streak without a trophy, with the midfielder helping the Gunners to the same trophy a year later, also from the bench.
- Save England against Slovenia – The Three Lions were trailing 1-0 in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia in June 2015 when Wilshere grabbed the game by the neck. The midfielder scored two epic long-range shots to put England back in front, with Roy Hodgson’s side winning the deciding fight 3-2.
“However, having had time to reflect and speak to my closest friends, I know now is the right time and despite the difficult moments, I look back on what I have achieved with great pride.
“Playing at the highest level with some of the best players in the world, winning FA Cups, becoming captain of my club and representing my country was beyond my wildest dreams growing up as a little boy in Hitchin.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career that I have had, but none of this would have been possible without the love and support of so many people.”
Wilshere paid tribute to former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and his staff for giving the young midfielder a chance.
“Words never do justice to the love and gratitude I have for The Boss, Arsene, Pat Rice and Boro Primorac,” Wilshere said.
“I could not have become part of the Arsenal family without your faith, support and guidance from the day we met. I am forever grateful to you all.
“To the best fans in the world, all Arsenal fans, thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Playing for you all was a privilege.
Jack Wilshere’s injury nightmare
- Ankle Injury: November 2009 – 12 days – missed 4 games
- Sprained ankle: July 2011 – 56 days – missed 10 games
- Ankle surgery: September 2011 – 127 days – 25 games missed
- Fatigue Fracture: February 2012 – 104 days – missed 19 games
- Knee surgery: May 2012 – 125 days – missed 6 games
- Hairline fracture in foot: March 2014 – 57 days – missed 11 games
- Ankle Injury: November 2014 – 90 days – missed 19 games
- Fibula hairline fracture: August 2015 – 247 days – 47 games missed
- Hairline tear in fibula: April 2017 – 112 days – missed 1 game
- Ankle Injury: September 2018 – 82 days – missed 11 games
- Ankle Surgery: December 2018 – 138 days – 22 games missed
- Groin Injury: October 2019 – 221 days – 22 games missed
- Calf injury: September 2020 – 11 days – missed 4 games
“You have always made me feel supported and I hope I have made you proud to represent your club. I will never forget how you always supported me and I will be a Gooner forever.”
Wilshere hinted that he might try to stay involved in the game going forward.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of my career and it’s been the journey of a lifetime,” he said.
“Now is the right time to close this chapter, but I still have so much to add to the game and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Former England goalkeeper Joe Hart responded to the same post on Instagram, writing: “Top fellow player. Lots of love and happiness for the future.”
Robbie Keane replied: “Good luck mate for the future,” while Declan Rice added: “Wilsh I love you bro. honor to know you and play with you!”