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Jack Wilshere reveals Mesut Ozil regret as he hails outgoing ex-Arsenal teammate

As knight follows day, another famous sporting son of Stevenage has few horizons left to conquer.

But while Lewis Hamilton explores the frontier ­between greatness and deity, for Jack Wilshere there is a profound sense of a ­glittering talent with a great future behind him.

While Hamilton was speeding towards a seventh Formula One world title in the autumn, Wilshere found himself without a club and training alone in the park.

Like his former Arsenal team-mate Mesut Ozil, rejection hit Wilshere hard. At 29, he is years from the scrapheap – and yet the days when Three Lions coach Fabio Capello ­acclaimed him as “the future” are firmly ­consigned to the past.

Wilshere admits he and Ozil should have won a lot more at Arsenal

Bournemouth, where he spent a season on loan in the Premier League four years ago, have offered him sanctuary again – a short-term deal in the muck and nettles of the ­Championship.

But after agreeing to tear up his contract at West Ham – the club he supported as a boy – with 12 months ­remaining, Wilshere is ­grateful for the small mercy of game time after those solitary park vigils.

He said: “I’m not going to lie – it was tough. At the start, it was kind of a relief – I just wanted to get out and play some games.

“If I am honest, I didn’t think it would take as long to find a new club.

“When you are at home and training in the park, and going through lockdown, sometimes your mind can play games with you. I am very grateful to West Ham for allowing me to leave.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have been starved of title glory for a while now – but things could be changing as a new-look Arsenal side plot a course to success.

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New signings Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey have hit the ground running following their big money summer arrivals, and the new-look Gunners are going all out for a top four spot and Europa League glory this term.

The Mesut Ozil situation continues to hang in the background and there’s plenty going on in North London to keep abreast of.

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“I didn’t want to sit there on big wages at a club and just rot.

“If I felt like I had done everything I wanted to do in football, I would have called it a day. But being out of the game for three months made me realise I want to play this game for as long as possible.

“I haven’t played in the Championship, or tried to win promotion, before. And if you had asked me 10 years ago
if this was something I thought I’d ever be ­involved in, I would have said no.

“But the most important thing for a footballer is to believe in yourself – and I’ve never, ever doubted ­myself as a player.”

Wilshere understands the parallels between his exile at West Ham and Ozil being frozen out at Arsenal – but he admits they should both have more winners’ medals to show for their time in the Gunners midfield.

“Like every other fan, I have been on the outside looking in, but all I remember is what a joy it was to play with him,” said Wilshere. “Mesut is a top, top player, one of the best I played with.

“It is a shame how it went at Arsenal, but I am sure a lot of the fans will remember his early days where we had a really good team and, yes, we probably should have won a bit more than a ­couple of FA Cups.

“Hopefully, he can go on to be successful in Turkey.”

Wilshere reboots in the FA Cup fourth round against Crawley Town on Tuesday night, but will not be taking a first-team place for granted with Jason Tindall’s Cherries.

“As a ­footballer, the day you think you haven’t got to prove anything to anyone is probably the day you should give up,” he added.




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