Jack Wilshere admitted he should have listened to the physios more as he reflected with regret on his Arsenal career.
Wilshere was hailed as the future of English football after breaking into Arsene Wenger’s Gunners team aged just 16.
But a succession of injuries got in the way, and Wilshere ended up making just 198 appearances in 10 years at Arsenal before joining West Ham on a free transfer in 2018.
Before that, Wilshere had chances to rebuild his career with loan spells at Bolton and Bournemouth, and he is now back with the Cherries in the Championship after being released by West Ham in October.
Now 29, the midfielder says he wished he had managed his injuries better.
“I remember having conversations with the physios in my first year in the Arsenal team,” Wilshere told the Daily Mail.
“They were like: ‘Look, you’re playing a lot…’ I told them: ‘I want to play.’
“I was living the dream. I was 19, playing for Arsenal. We were challenging for the Premier League, in the Champions League.
“No one was going to tell me I needed a rest. That’s one of my biggest regrets – I wish I’d listened to physios a little more, learned more about my body.
“Now everyone wears a GPS. You’re looked after. That wasn’t around when I was younger.
“I’ve heard many people over the years say I attract the challenge. That’s my game – get the player close, do a one-two, dribble around. I still try to play like that.
“But if I could go back and change one thing, it would be to manage the games, manage myself better and listen to the physios more. It’s easy to say now.”
Wilshere recalled his man-of-the-match performance during Arsenal’s Champions League win over against Barcelona in 2011, when he was up against a midfield containing Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
“In terms of having no problems with my body that was my prime,” he said.
“But I had a few seasons after that where I felt good, too. Everyone remembers that Barcelona win because it was against the best midfield of the last 20 years.
“When the draw came out, we were written off. You’re in the tunnel standing next to Lionel Messi. I don’t think we touched the ball for 20 minutes! You’re thinking: ‘This is going to be a long night.’
Then I made a big challenge and won the ball before beating Iniesta. It lifted everyone. Even now, I think about moments like that.
I remember sitting next to Samir Nasri later and he told me: ‘You’ve taken your game to another level now. You need to stay at this level.’ That was a great night.”