Talent 2010: The sportsman, Jack Wilshere

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The Independent Football

Not the least remarkable fact about Jack Wilshere is that his first name is not Jacques or Juan. This is because the 17-year-old is not only a rare English football talent but is also seen as potentially a vital force in the future of Arsenal, the club who frequently send out a team minus a single native-born player.

Club manager Arsène Wenger has already displayed extreme enthusiasm for the Hertfordshire boy since he dazzled onlookers at a club trial as a nine-year-old. "Jack," says Wenger, "has already shown me that he can be a great player; now all he has to do is develop naturally."

Wenger made Wilshere the youngest-ever Arsenal debutant when he sent him on as a substitute against Blackburn at the age of 16. His enthusiasm for Wilshere is a reminder that young English players, so often squeezed out of the upper echelon of the game, might again prove that they can match the highest Continental standards in the finer aspects of the game.

Wilshere, who in 2008 became only the fifth 16-year-old to appear in Champions League football when he played against Dynamo Kiev, is a midfielder of the most refined attacking instinct. He can sprinkle sublime touches through his game.

Such is Wilshere's maturity that England's team manager Fabio Capello has already hinted that he may take him to South Africa for this summer's World Cup. It would be a stunning tribute to a young player who has made a brilliant statement of extraordinary ambition.