Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere inspired by ex-Newcastle United hero

Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere has revealed Paul Gascoigne inspired him ahead of the trip to Slovenia, when he scored arguably England’s best goal since the midfield maestro struck at Euro ‘96.

This season, like so many before, has been frustrating for the supremely-talented 23-year-old, with injury stunting his progress.

He said he felt at his best when he was playing, with the ball at his feet.

However, Wilshere showed flashes of his undoubted quality towards the end of the campaign, following up his fine strike in the final-day clash against West Brom by scoring a stunning brace against Slovenia.

Having unleashed a thunderous strike from the edge of the box to draw level in Ljubljana, the Arsenal midfielder again found the top left-hand corner with an even better effort to put Roy Hodgson’s men ahead at the end of an exceptional team move.

Wayne Rooney hit the decisive late goal after Slovenia had levelled, completing a thrilling 3-2 victory in which Wilshere’s stunning first international goals will live longest in the memory.

“When you’re younger, you dream of playing for England, so the first goal felt great because playing for your country is great, but when you score, that’s a special feeling,” Wilshere said.

“It wasn’t preying on my mind. The only reason I was bothered was because you look at your stats and it says 28 games and no goals. Apart from that, you don’t think about it but it is nice.

“I hope there will be more. I’ve been open about it and saying for club and country I know I haven’t scored enough. You know, I get into good positions but haven’t scored.”

Wilshere’s goals helped England extend their 100 per cent record in Euro 2016 qualification and end the season unbeaten for the first time in 24 years.

That was a time when the Three Lions could call upon the likes of Gascoigne, at his pomp following a memorable, if ultimately frustrating, 1990 World Cup.

The midfielder’s story has been revisited in a recently-released documentary, which Wilshere watched on the flight out to Ljubljana.

“I watched it on the plane and, yeah, it did inspire me a bit,” he said.

“You could tell by the way he played going out and playing for England, you could tell he didn’t feel any fear. He was over that.

“Sometimes when they play for their country I think players feel a little bit of fear and a bit of pressure.

“He just wanted to go out there. He said he felt at his best when he was playing, with the ball at his feet.

“You do sometimes feel like that. He did it and he was England’s best player. So, it’s worth a try.”