Jack Wilshere has described as “harsh” the criticism of his behaviour that led to his Football Association charge for the sweary call-and-response chant he initiated about Tottenham Hotspur at Arsenal’s FA Cup parade.
The midfielder said that he meant nothing “personal” about Spurs – having begun the “What do we think of Tottenham?” chant at the Emirates on 31 May – and has not yet decided whether he will contest the charge that is likely to bring with it a sizeable fine. He also joked that he only learnt of it when he was at the England team hotel when one of the FA’s media team casually mentioned it, believing that Wilshere had already been told.
Wilshere admitted he had been warned by the FA the previous year when he did the same after Arsenal’s FA Cup victory parade then, but said that he was entitled to have some “fun”. Speaking after the 0-0 draw with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Sunday, Wilshere was asked whether he had learnt a lesson from the episode.
“That’s one way of looking at it,” he said, “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 [the 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 [criticism of going out to celebrate] was a bit harsh.”
Asked whether he was glad to be different from players who can be perceived to be detached, Wilshere said: “I am quite proud of that. 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 believe it or not, I’ve actually got family who are Tottenham fans so it’s nothing personal against them, it was just a bit of fun.”
He added: “I found out [about the FA charge] when I got here [to the England camp]. One of the press officers told me. It was a surprise. I didn’t know I’d been charged so I was like, ‘What?’”
Wilshere said that the draw against Ireland, a forgettable match, was required for England to tune up ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia on Sunday. “We felt like we needed [the game]” he 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.”
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