EXCLUSIVE: Pep Guardiola ‘killed me’ with his back-handed compliments after Arsenal beat Barcelona – I’m happy at West Ham but I’d still love to play for him at some stage says Jack Wilshere
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has been discussing various topics with Layth Yousif during his exclusive interview this week. The talented 26-year-old invited Layth to his house for an in-depth discussion on a wide-ranging number of issues as the star prepares to launch his first soccer school at the end of this month. Read on for more...
The talented Wilshere has been reflecting on the day he came up against one of the best club sides football has ever seen as he gears up to launch his own soccer school in North Herts this month.
The Gunners former creative midfielder who spent 17 years in North London recalled the day Pep Guardiola’s legendary Barcelona faced Arsene Wenger’s side at the Emirates in the Champions League – and beat the star-studded side.
Speaking exclusively to the Islington Gazette Wilshere shared his memories of that famous match in 2011 when they beat the all-conquering Barca side 2-1 on a never-to-be-forgotten evening in North London.
He said: “I remember I played a lot that year. There were still question marks around me. Not from Arsene [Wenger]. He was always supportive. He’d always believed in me but around then I got in a bit of trouble off the pitch because I was young. People were questioning me.
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“I remember thinking before that match that I’d played games in the Premier League and the Champions League – but I recall thinking: ‘This is Barcelona.’ Messi, Pedro, Xavi, Iniesta.
“I recall being in the tunnel and looking across and seeing them all and thinking ‘Jesus Christ’.”
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“I was in the zone. But it was difficult to be in that zone. Once the game starts you’re fine. But before the game looking down the tunnel and there were World Cup winners, Ballon d’Or winners, Champions League winners – but once the game started it was fine.”
The then 19-year-old Wilshere was man of the match that night, impressing fans around the globe who watched his power, technique, temperament and drive shine through.
His performance even drew praise from the legendary Guardiola.
However, it was couched in a barb, as Wilshere explains.
“Yes he was [complementary] but he also killed me as well.
“Do you remember what he said? He said they had loads of Jack Wilshere’s at La Masia [smiles].
“I do think it was a bit of mind games as well because it was still only the end of the first leg. Pep is one of the best managers of all time.
“I still feel we have a good relationship. If I see him at a game he always makes a point of coming over and having a chat.
“We had a little run-in during that game. I went down and I think he thought I was time wasting. He went over to me and had a go but it was a good time.
“I still think we should have won that second leg. We had a good chance at the end but Barcelona were incredible. The football they played. They were better than the best team ever back then.
“The rest of that game was a blur. There are clips of that game that still go around but it was probably the best night of my life as an Arsenal player.
“Winning the FA Cups was great of course, but I remember after the Barcelona game at the Emirates Wenger said: ‘This is where you grew up as a player.’”
Guardiola and Wilshere have crossed paths a number of times since that night and the Stevenage-born, Hitchin-reared star who is launching a soccer school in Letchworth in two weeks time has nothing but respect for the Catalan boss.
Wilshere is happy and settled at West Ham, the club he moved to from Arsenal after his contract expired, but, like most footballers, is fascinated by the charismatic former Nou Camp supremo.
The former Gunners midfielder added: “I think any player would love to play under Pep.
“I speak to a few of the England lads who play under him who say he’s on a different level because of his coaching and the way he is.
“If you’re at the right stage of your career he would improve you massively.”
The Jack Wilshere Soccer School runs in Letchworth on Tuesday, October 30, Wednesday, October 31 and Thursday, November 1. Courses are available for boys and girls aged four to 15. Everyone attending will be given a trophy and a signed photograph of Jack.
Across the three days youngsters will also have the chance to meet Jack and receive expert coaching from him and coaches provided by soccer school associate Paul Deller and his ‘Grassroots Soccer’ organisation.
To book visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/jack-wilshere-and-grassroots-soccer-school-tickets-48987092713
Follow Layth on Twitter @laythy29