Former Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere has announced his retirement from professional football.
The news comes just over 24 hours after it was announced he had left Danish club AGF after less than five months and is now “considering his next step” in his career.
Wilshere became the Gunners’ youngest league debutant aged 16 years and 256 days in 2008 after coming through the club’s Academy.
The midfielder, who has been hampered by a string of injuries, won the FA Cup twice in successive seasons with Arsenal in 2014 and 2015, before joining Bournemouth and then West Ham.
Wilshere 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 senior appearance for England in 2010, Wilshere earned 34 caps and made the 2014 World Cup squad.
“It’s been an amazing journey filled with so many amazing moments and I feel privileged to have experienced everything I’ve done in my career,” Wilshere said in his retirement announcement on Twitter.
“To be the little boy kicking a ball in the garden, to be captain of my beloved Arsenal and to play for my country at a World Cup. I have lived my dream.
“Truly, it’s been hard to accept that my career has slipped lately for reasons beyond my control while still feeling that I still had so much to give.
“Having played at the highest level, I’ve always had such big ambitions in the game and if I’m being honest, I didn’t envision being in that position at times.
Wilshere’s top five career moments
- Tonight against Barcelona – Arsenal were pitted against one of the best Barcelona sides of all time, with a 19-year-old Wilshere tasked with taking on Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Against nippy tiki taka football, Wilshere showed courage, cunning and an equal level of technical cunning as Arsene Wenger’s side won 2-1 in one of the best nights in their recent history .
- Goal of the Season v Norwich – Wilshere didn’t score much during his career, but when he did it was special. His best in the Premier League was a magnificent one-touch team goal against Norwich in 2013, which saw him combine beautifully with Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, who won the goal of the season – an award he won a year later for a smashing effort against West Bromwich Albion.
- Dominating 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 announce himself on the international stage, playing a major role in England’s opener in a 2-1 victory – the Three Lions’ first victory against the Selecao in nearly a quarter of a century. The biggest indication that he would be England’s future.
- Help Arsenal win the FA Cup – It’s the second half of extra time in the 2014 FA Cup Final and Arsenal are locked in a 2-2 draw with Hull. Wilshere was brought on in the brief interval at Wembley and within four minutes he was instrumental in the winning goal. Wilshere’s incisive pass falls into the path of Yaya Sanogo, who returns the ball to Olivier Giroud. The French striker’s film found Aaron Ramsey in the box, who brought home the winner. Wilshere’s intervention helped Arsenal end a nine-year trophyless streak, with the midfielder helping the Gunners win the same trophy a year later also off the bench.
- Save England against Slovenia – The Three Lions were trailing 1-0 to Slovenia in the Euro 2016 qualifiers in June 2015 when Wilshere took the game by the scruff of the neck. The midfielder scored two epic long-range efforts to put England back in front, with Roy Hodgson’s side winning the vital game 3-2.
“However, after having had time to reflect and talk with my loved ones, I know that now is the right time and despite the difficult times, I look back on my career with great pride in what I have achieved.
“Playing at the 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 little boy growing up in Hitchin.
“I feel very lucky to have had the career I have had, but none of this would have been possible without the love and support of so many people.”
Wilshere has paid tribute to former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and his team for giving the young midfielder a chance.
“Words will never do justice to the love and thanks I have for the Boss, Arsene, Pat Rice and Boro Primorac,” Wilshere said.
“Without your belief, support and guidance from day one of us meeting, I could not have been part of the Arsenal family. I will be forever grateful to you.
“To the best fans on the planet, all of you Arsenal fans, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Playing for all of you has been a privilege.
Jack Wilshere’s Injury Nightmare
- Ankle injury: November 2009 – 12 days – 4 games missed
- Ankle sprain: July 2011 – 56 days – 10 games missed
- Ankle surgery: September 2011 – 127 days – 25 games missed
- Stress fracture: February 2012 – 104 days – 19 games missed
- Knee surgery: May 2012 – 125 days – 6 games missed
- Hair crack in the foot: March 2014 – 57 days – 11 games missed
- Ankle injury: November 2014 – 90 days – 19 games missed
- Hair crack in the fibula: August 2015 – 247 days – 47 games missed
- Hair crack in the fibula: April 2017 – 112 days – 1 game missed
- Ankle injury: September 2018 – 82 days – 11 games missed
- Ankle surgery: December 2018 – 138 days – 22 games missed
- Groin injury: October 2019 – 221 days – 22 games missed
- Calf injury: September 2020 – 11 days – 4 games missed
“You always made me feel supported and I hope I made you proud to represent your club. I will never forget how you always supported me and I will forever be a Gooner.”
Wilshere has indicated that he may look to stay involved in the game in the future.
“I enjoyed every moment of my career and it was the trip of a lifetime,” he said.
“It’s a good time to close this chapter, but I still have a lot to give to the game and I’m excited for what the future holds.”
Former England goalkeeper Joe Hart responded to the same post on Instagram, writing: “Best player. Lots of love and luck for the future.”
Robbie Keane replied, “Good luck mate for the future”, while Declan Rice added, “Wilsh, love you bro. Honor to know you and play with you!”