Jack Wilshere believes the Arsenal dressing room atmosphere is the best he’s ever experienced and feels there is a great mix of characters among the squad.
The England international was also quick to hail Mikel Arteta who has captained the side for much of 2013, and hopes to emulate the former Everton star and lead the Gunners out onto the pitch one day.
The north London side lead the pack by two points at the summit of the Premier League, and Wilshere feels the diversity of fun and serious players as well as the companionship within the dressing room has been a vital factor in their success so far this season.
He told Arsenal Player:
At the moment I would probably say it’s the best atmosphere I’ve ever been in the dressing room. There are some real characters in there, some funny guys and some serious guys, there are professional guys who want to get things done and don’t like people being late, so everyone’s disciplined.
From the team that I first broke into a lot of them have gone so I’m one of the few who’s been around, there’s Bac [Sagna] as well but I’m one of the only midfielders who has been around for a while.
Mikel [Arteta] came in, he was the captain at Everton and he’s the vice-captain here and you can tell by the way he is off the pitch, even when he was injured he was in the dressing room and giving us support. I do feel a bit of responsibility but I have players around to help me.
I’ve grown up at this club and I have captained the Club at under-16 level, under-18 level and last season as well I got the armband for 20 minutes or so [against West Ham in January] which was a nice feeling. I want to do that [be a leader] for this club.
The midfielder is in a fantastic position at present as he is able to learn from the best while also remaining an integral cog of the Arsenal midfield. He is a Gooner through and through and has spent a number of years at the club joining as a 9-year-old.
Since then he’s gone onto break into the first team at the age of 16 and now at only 21-years-old he’s an established England international with two children, something has helped to ground and discipline him.
[On growning up as a footballer] Yes, 100 per cent. When you become a father, not for just the first time but the second time as well, and you have a little girl, it makes you think about life.
You put them [my children] first. Before I was an 18-year-old doing what I wanted. I would get home from football and I would sleep and do what I want. I would go round my friends for dinner and stuff.
Archie came along and things changed, you put him first, you want to see him and when the second one comes round it’s the same. It’s so busy now with two kids, you don’t have time for your friends – you go to football and you go home, you see your kids and then you’re in bed by nine o’clock. A lot of things change and you do a lot of growing up.
There certainly are not many 21-year-olds in his position that is for sure. Many young up and coming footballers often get carried away with being in the spotlight and caught up in the hype, but Wilshere has remained level-headed and has dealt with the intense pressure so far. The whole smoking thing and getting wrapped up in the ‘Englishman for England’ debate helped sell a few papers, but Wilshere has demonstrated his maturity of late something that will certainly bode well for his credentials as a captain.
For now there are plenty of names that should be ahead of him in the Arsenal captaincy list, with the likes of Vermaelen, Arteta, Mertesacker and Flamini all very experienced, but Wilshere can learn plenty from the big names around him and one day lead the side onto the Emirates pitch. There is certainly no rush for him to take over the mantel, for now he needs to focus on his own game and start reproducing the form we all know he’s capable of.
What are your thoughts Gooners? Do you think Wilshere will be ready for captaincy over the next couple of seasons?