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'I didn't feel like I deserved to be there' - Wilshere on breaking into the Arsenal team & being mentored by Fabregas

Jack Wilshere has opened up on breaking into Arsenal's first team, admitting that he "didn't feel like I deserved to be there", while also revealing the role Cesc Fabregas played in his development.

Wilshere enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence after being handed his first professional contract at Emirates Stadium in 2009 at the tender age of 17.

The midfielder quickly adapted to the pace and intensity of Premier League football, and soon became a regular in Arsene Wenger's starting XI.

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A call-up to the England squad soon followed, with Wilshere being tipped to become a future star on both club and international stages, but unfortunately, he was unable to live up to his full potential.

Injuries significantly disrupted his progress at Arsenal between 2011 and 2016, before he was sent out on loan to Bournemouth to take in some regular minutes.

The Gunners were prepared to offer Wilshere a contract extension upon his return to the Emirates, but he ultimately decided to move on to a new challenge at West Ham in the summer of 2019.

The 28-year-old recalls doubting himself at Arsenal right from the very beginning, but credits Fabregas for helping him to build up much-needed confidence as a youngster.

"Cesc would always give me words of advice," Wilshere told the club's official podcast. "Kieran Gibbs was around the team and then Aaron [Ramsey] came in.

"We'd all got close in that pre-season because we were the young players, young players tend to stick together when they come into the first team.

"I was quite quiet at that stage, it sounds mad but I didn't really feel like I deserved to be there. I felt like I was a kid and there was a lot of injuries and I'd got my chance.
"Cesc was good. He would give me words of advice because at that point I was with the first team, then with the reserves. Cesc would always say, 'I watched you the other night in the reserves and you did well'."

Wilshere went on to discuss his standout display for Arsenal against Barcelona in 2011, insisting he felt like he was chasing shadows for most of the 2-1 home victory over Pep Guardiola's side.

"To be honest, I didn't even think I was [playing that well]," he said. "I thought I was doing alright. When we got to half-time, I had done a few good things in the first half but I felt like they had dominated.

"They had a way of making you feel like you were running around in circles for no reason. They used to make these little passes in midfield and you didn't know whether to press or to hold back and wait for them.
"It wasn't until after the game actually [that I realised how well I'd played]. It was Paul Akers, the kit man, who was like, 'You just had Xavi and Iniesta in your pocket'. I said, 'no chance' and he was like, 'I'm telling you'. Then I got man of the match.
"It's difficult when you're in a game to know how well you played and what people are thinking of games.

"Over the next few days I remember Nasri saying to me after the game, 'You need to stay at this level now, you've just gone up a couple of levels, this needs to be your level, week in, week out'. It's alright everyone else saying it, but when it comes from your team-mates, the people who see you every day, it meant more."