Jack Wilshere has revealed he questioned his future in football after his young son’s seizures took his focus away from recovering from injury while he was at Arsenal.
West Ham midfielder Wilshere started just one game for the Gunners in the 2015-16 campaign after suffering a fibula injury in training before the season had even begun.
But it was not only the injury which kept the 27-year-old from returning to action, with Wilshere revealing in a documentary that his son, Archie, had been having seizures at that time.
“It was in 2016, maybe 2015, when 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,” Wilshere told Athlete’s Stance.
“I’d come home and all of a sudden my four-year-old son was having seizures on the floor. It happened time and time again and every day for maybe 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 probably sit up most nights because most of the time it was happening – the seizures – at night. We’d put him to bed but we couldn’t sleep because we didn’t know what was happening with him.
“So we would just sit up. I just forgot about football. I remember saying to my wife, ‘I’m not sure I can do this anymore’.
“It makes you realise that football isn’t everything.”
Wilshere was full of praise for former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who allowed the midfielder time off to concentrate on looking after his son.
He added: “As men, we don’t like to show weaknesses, we don’t like to talk about things. A few people knew and that’s why I speak so highly of Arsene Wenger as well, because he was brilliant.
“He said to me ‘You deal with your son, you take out however long it takes’.
“And this is why this injury took so long. People don’t realise. They 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 as I can with my kids. Everything I do is for them.”
Wilshere confirmed that his son is now well and he stressed his desire to continue playing for as long as he can.
“Thankfully now, my son is good,” said Wilshere, who returned from an ankle injury at the end of the 2018-19 season. “Thanks to the doctors and the specialists he’s 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 – she loves it – and my new baby hasn’t seen me play football yet, so I have to do it for her as well.
“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.”