Jack Wilshere has accused those who have criticised him for his over-zealous celebrations during Arsenal’s FA Cup victory parade of sucking the joy out of his success.
Wilshere has not directly criticised the Football Association for issuing a disrepute charge on the day he reported for international duty with England last week, but he did take a swipe at those who have claimed his behaviour was not befitting of a Premier League footballer.
The midfielder is expected to be fined by the FA this week after he led anti-Tottenham Hotspur chants with a microphone in his hand during Arsenal’s open-top bus parade 24 hours after thrashing Aston Villa at Wembley. Wilshire, 23, swore several times while mocking Spurs’ lack of trophies, to the delight of the Arsenal supporters who heard him.
Some, though, have questioned whether the former Arsenal Academy graduate should have been drinking so heavily after the Cup win when he had two international fixtures for which to prepare.
Asked if the FA charge was a lesson learnt, Wilshere replied: “Yes, that’s one way of looking at it, but at the same time people have been giving me a lot of stick for having some fun and enjoying myself at the end of [a successful season].
“We’ve worked hard all year as a group of players and we’ve won a trophy. That’s the best feeling in the world. No matter what job you do, if at the end of the year you get a promotion and a bonus, you’re going to go out and celebrate. I think that side of things [going out partying] was a bit harsh, but with the [England players] code [of conduct]…”
Wilshere did not finish that sentence, which prompted a clarification from the FA that his disrepute charge had nothing to do with the England players’ code of conduct. That code, according to an FA spokesperson, applies to more serious misdemeanours, with Wilshere’s charge at the lower end of the disciplinary scale.
However, although he was warned following a similar incident after Arsenal’s victory over Hull City in the FA Cup final last year, Wilshere still feels that he has been unfairly castigated for enjoying the success like a supporter. He has not been disciplined by Arsenal for orchestrating the chants.
“I’m quite proud of the fact I’m not detached from the supporters,” Wilshere said. “I’ve always had that bond with the Arsenal fans since I was young because I came through the club. I grew up at Arsenal and I love the fans, but I’ve actually got family who are Tottenham fans so it’s nothing personal against them, it was just a bit of fun.
“I don’t think I’m in a position to comment about it at the moment [whether the punishment too harsh]. It’s being dealt with by the FA and my club. What will be, will be.”
Asked whether the charge had been hard to deal with, Wilshere said: “It hasn’t really been mentioned. It was the day we arrived. A few of the lads gave me a bit of banter about it. The Tottenham players don’t talk to me.”
While few people at Arsenal think Wilshere has done anything wrong, the episode has been a regrettable one for a player who is yet to fulfil his potential for either club or country.
However, with England manager Roy Hodgson offering him an extended run in the starting line-up in a deep-lying midfield role, Wilshere does feel settled in the national team, even though he plays in a more attacking position for his club.
“I like playing that position,” said Wilshere, who will again start in front of the back four against Slovenia next weekend. “I feel, every game I play in the position, I’m learning a little bit more and I feel more comfortable in it. I spoke to the [England] manager and he said, ‘You know what your role for England is now’. I’m happy playing that role and I’m happy playing a little bit further forward for Arsenal.
“I’m not sure I can say I’m an England regular, you know, because there are always players out there, players like Michael Carrick or Ryan Mason, who are always pushing you all the time. That’s what keeps you going, that’s what keeps you performing. That’s the way you want it to be when you are representing your country. You’ve got to do it week in, week out for club and country.”
Wilshere is also confident that England will deliver a far better performance against Slovenia than they did against Ireland. Several players underperformed in Dublin in a game that resembled a training-ground kickabout rather than an international friendly between two historic rivals.
“We felt like we needed the Ireland game,” Wilshere said. “You could tell during the first half an hour that there were players who had been away on holiday and hadn’t played for a few weeks, since the last day of the season. To switch off completely mentally and go away with the family, it’s hard coming back and we needed to get that first game so we are ready when the important game comes next weekend.”