Wilshere: I want to play for as long as possible
Jack Wilshere is doing everything he can to make both his family and West Ham United proud next season.
While his Hammers squad-mates have been off representing their countries on international duty or enjoying a well-earned rest, the midfielder has been a daily visitor to Rush Green, where he has been working hard on his fitness after returning from an ankle injury at the tail-end of last season.
While Wilshere’s motivation is to get back to regular action and make up for lost time in a Claret and Blue shirt, he also revealed that a worrying illness that left Archie suffering mysterious daily seizures three years ago put his whole life and career in perspective, and how everything he now does is with seven-year-old boy, wife and two daughters at the forefront of his mind.
My goal is to get back in the team and win as many games as possible. At the moment, that is all I’m focused on
“It was in 2016 and I picked up an injury in training, and it was tough to take, because I was making my way back to where I wanted to be,” the No19 told Athlete's Stance. “I came home and all of a sudden my four-year-old son was having seizures on the floor.
“It happened time and time again and it happened every day for three or four months. There were times when, in the middle of the night, I’d be rushing to the hospital.
“Me and my wife would sit up most nights because the seizures were mostly happening at night. We’d put him to bed but we couldn’t sleep because we didn’t know what was happening with him. We would just sit up. I just sort of forget about football. I can remember saying to my wife [Andriani]: ‘I’m not sure I can do this anymore.’
“It makes you realise that football isn’t everything. As men, we don’t like to show weakness and we don’t like to talk about things. A few people knew and that’s why I speak so highly of [his then-Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger as well. He said to me: ‘You deal with your son, you take out however long it takes’. And that’s why this injury took so long. People say: ‘He’s always injured, he’s injury prone, he’s never going to be fit,’ but they don’t realise what goes on behind closed doors.
“For the first four or five months of that rehab, I didn’t want to be rehabbing. I was in and out of hospitals, I wasn’t sleeping, and I didn’t really care to be honest. My main focus was him. I sort of switched off from the outside world a little bit, and it makes you change the way you think about things and life.
“I’m a footballer, and that’s great, but family comes first always. I try to be the best Dad and I try to spend as much time with them as I can. Everything I do is for them.”
With that approach to his life and career in mind, Wilshere is now giving his all to be ready to hit the ground running when West Ham return for pre-season training on 1 July, with the aim of getting back to his best for himself, the club he supported as a boy and, above all, Archie.
“Thankfully now, my son is good,” he confirmed. “Thanks to the doctors and the specialists he’s good and under control now. He’s been asking me all the time ‘Dad, when are you back?’ and I want to come back for him. Not just for him, but my daughter [Delilah] – she loves it – and my new baby [Siena] hasn’t seen me play football yet, so I need to do it for her as well.
“You should never give up. I want to play for as long as possible. I do genuinely love football. It’s my life, it’s my kids’ lives, we’re a football family. My goal is to get back in the team and win as many games as possible. At the moment, that is all I’m focused on.”