‘I bring them out slowly, these English players,’ said the great Lord and Saviour Arsene Wenger. ‘He’s another one who will soon play for you.’
He spoke of course of the youngest EVER player to play for Arsenal in the League. “Jack Wilshere – 16 years 256 days, Blackburn (a) 13 Sept 2008”
Goodness knows how many different players have pulled on the shirt since a little game against Newcastle at the Manor Ground Plumstead (2 September 1893) in the second division. (The result then was 2-2 with Woolwich goals from Shaw and Elliott – which makes me think – where is the statue to them – or indeed to that whole team.)
Then, 118 years and 1 month and 1 week and 5 days later, we get to the youngest ever.
If you didn’t see any of his games on the way up, you won’t quite know yet what you have in store – but even if you missed that incredible goal from the half way line, even if you missed the extraordinary displays in the pre-season games, now is the time to realise just what we have got here.
You know how good Fabregas is – how he had that coolness and calmness from the age of 16.
And if you are of a “certain age” you will know what Liam Brady was like and why very old farts like me still dribble a lot when we recall him scoring against Tottenham from near the half way line and then just turning to the Shelf (as it was) and raising his hands…
And then you put all of that together and you have Jack Wilshere. (Well ok maybe not the waving to the Totts, but the bit of football that came before it.)
Brady was the ultimate god of the era, a player of such unbelievable grace and ability he lit up football for a generation, first with us, then in Italy.
Now we have his successor.
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