Before Jack Wilshere returns to the playing field I think it is worth revisiting The Smoking Incident one last time – but not for the reasons you might think.
To recap: During Jack Wilshere’s extended injury absence the British press caught him smoking in a nightclub.
This is the third time that Jack has been pictured smoking and, as usual, it has caused a huge furore from commentators and analysts all over the country.
Even Roy Hodgson gave his opinion on Jack’s behaviour.
In fairness Jack was not smoking a cigarette this time but instead holding a shisha pipe.
Every article focused on whether or not a top-level athlete should be smoking, or what Arsenal should do to punish the player but I think that everyone is missing the point; Jack just isn’t mature enough right now to be the player that everyone once hoped he could be.
Jack Wilshere smokes. It’s a fact.
He may only smoke occasionally but he still does it. I personally don’t think a Premier League player should be smoking, but that is besides the point.
There are plenty of examples of famous football players smoking and I reckon more do that we just don’t know about it.
Even the great France and Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane has been caught out. Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal medical staff know about Jack’s habit; it is completely up to them how to deal with it. If they are satisfied with his health and aren’t kicking him out of the squad then there is nothing more to say on the matter.
When I first saw the picture I wasn’t shocked at the shisha pipe instead I was surprised at where Jack was.
Jack has now been injured for nearly three months and it has been years since Arsenal’s ‘golden boy‘ has really shown the potential that, at one stage, seemed set to take him to the top. He has spoken in the past about his desire to achieve a consistent run of good form and I believe him. Whenever Jack is on the pitch he seems to give every game his all and fights for the club.
I understand that many Premier League footballers gain celebrity status and make a lot of money very quickly. The young, more impressionable players can be easily distracted by the lifestyle that quick success can bring.
However, as a player if you are serious about your game, when injured you do everything you can to get your body back into perfect condition. That doesn’t involve going to a London club.
Zidane would never have been pictured partying in a nightclub during an injury layoff.
The only foreign player (that I can think of) that regularly appears in the British tabloids is Mario Balotelli and yet young English players seem waste their careers jumping from one media scandal to the next every week.
Jack’s response to the criticism was to post a video online of him doing an intensive training course. The post was an unnecessary plea to fans and advertisers to acknowledge his commitment to his own health and working hard.
As a fan I would prefer a response in the form of Jack returning to the level of ability that he is more than capable of achieving both on and off the pitch.
At one stage Jack Wilshere was hailed as the future of Arsenal and the soon-to-be next great captain of the club.
I was delighted to see Jack return to the squad against Crystal Palace, but now I would like to see a more mature Jack Wilshere for Arsenal or I fear that he will go down in history as another nearly-great player.