Wilshere has opened up on the challenges he has faced as he looks for a new club having been told by former Arsenal team-mate Mikel Arteta he can train with the Premier League side
Jack Wilshere has opened up on battling mental health issues while training alone – admitting “depressive thoughts don’t care if you’re a footballer”.
The 29-year-old was recently told by his former Arsenal team-mate Mikel Arteta he could train with the Gunners while he looks for a new club.
The midfielder was once tipped to be England’s next big talent before repeated injury problems took their toll.
But he says he has been inspired to kick-start his career after receiving a positive response to speaking out about the challenges he has faced.
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“When I spoke out that I was training on my own, that I was having these thoughts of: ‘what am I training for?’,” Wilshere told Sky Sports.
“The response from everyone really – but mainly people in the game that I respect, ex-players, people that I look up to reaching out to me, saying you’ve still got a lot to give – it made me even more hungry to come back and just enjoy my football again.”
Wilshere broke into Arsenal’s first team aged just 16 and made 198 appearances, helping the Gunners win two FA Cups before also playing for West Ham, Bolton and Bournemouth.
He said the lifestyle of a footballer doesn’t necessarily guard against mental health issues, and urged anyone suffering to share their concerns.
“Us as players have to be willing to speak up, speak about our feelings and realise it’s not a weakness, it’s actually really brave and people will help you if you need help,” he said at an event in London.
“The biggest feeling is relief – sometimes you don’t even know that you’re holding onto these feelings.
“Some people might think it’s normal to have these feelings, especially when you’re a footballer and things aren’t going well, you question everything.
“I always thought that speaking out or speaking to someone – especially in the media – would almost come across as a weakness because the general perception of footballers is that ‘they have everything, what have they got to moan about? They’ve got a great life.’
“The depressive thoughts don’t care if you’re a footballer. I think it’s important to speak out.”