Born: 11/9/1995, London
Position: Attacking Midfield
Weight: 11st 10lb
Sharing a forename is not the only thing that Jack Jebb has in common with Jack Wilshere. The 16-year-old is similarly a talented, creative midfield player, who shines for the same club and country. The particular thing that sets the pair apart, though, is that they joined the Arsenal Academy a year early – with the full blessing of their educators.
“Arsenal approached my school and explained how they thought I would benefit joining the Academy a year early,” says Jack. “I think the school saw how Jack Wilshere had benefitted and agreed. I feel I have gained a lot in this last year. I have been fully involved since pre-season and feel I have given a big boost along my career path, especially knowing that Arsenal were prepared to offer me this opportunity so early.
“People ask about whether I should have continued with my GCSEs and I believe that what is right for one may not be right for another. My attitude is that I want to be 100 per cent focused on becoming a professional footballer with Arsenal. I do sense that there is a career mapped out for me and there are expectations I will have to reach, but I see that as a challenge and not a pressure.”
It’s indicative that, when asked which players Jack looks to learn from most, the first names he mentions are not regularly first-team players.
“Ozzy Ozyakup and Conor Henderson,” he announces. “I love the way that Ozzy is so composed on the ball, his passing ability and technique, and he oozes confidence. Conor has such good vision and is so technically gifted – he does things with the ball that look impossible. I feel so lucky I’m able to work and learn from these guys day in, day out.
“I feel I have improved a lot from being in an environment where there are so many good players around. I have always played with older players and it helps me achieve higher standards, as do the coaches. Steve Bould is excellent – he has a good eye for seeing areas that need developing and if I have not hit the standards he expects, he tells me straight and works with me to get it right.”
Jack lives in Epsom Downs and travels in to training by train every day. “I have fallen asleep after a hard session and missed my stop a couple of times,” he smiles, “but thankfully there are only a couple of stations after my stop and so I am not miles away from home when I eventually wake up at the end of the line!”
The youngster is currently working on improving his overall game, as he believes that the modern player has to be fully rounded. “Just like a defensive midfielder has to be able to pass forwards, a creative midfielder needs to know how to defend,” he observes. “I am working on my tackling, and I suppose that being a creative midfielder helps me because I can anticipate what the opposing player will do and intercept if I can.”
One of the other areas that Jack spends a lot of time on is practicing free-kicks. “I have my own technique which works quite well for me,” he reveals. “I am always trying to improve and make it more reliable and consistent. I also experiment with other styles, including Ronaldo’s. It is very difficult, you have to hit the ball on the valve and lift your standing foot at the same time to get the dip. It is a difficult skill and I have pulled it off a few times, but not consistently enough to know that I won’t send the ball into the stands! I have faith in what I do, but I like experimenting too.”
Three teams you played for before Arsenal?
Epsom Dynamos, Predators and Cheam Park Farm (my school)
Best piece of advice anyone’s given you?
Work harder today than you did yesterday
Best moment in football before joining Arsenal?
Winning the cup at Cheam Park Farm
Supported growing up?
Pretended to be in the playground?
Other sports good at?
Cross country, rugby and table tennis
Fave TV programme growing up?
SpongeBob (and still is!)
Fave teacher at school?
Mr Coleman at Cheam Park Farm
Most influential on career?
Other clubs interested in you before Arsenal?
Fulham and Chelsea
Fave item of clothing?
My collection of trainers
Arsenal role model?
Best thing about being part of the Academy?
Training every day and learning from top players
Three words to describe you as a player...
‘Vision’, ‘powerful’ and ‘unbelievable tekkers!’
Three words to describe you as a person...
‘Ambitious’, ‘caring’ and ‘hardworking’
Three to follow on Twitter...
Jack Wilshere, Rihanna and Chris Brown
Most talented team-mate?
Something about you not many people know?
I reckon I’m a good skier