Jack Wilshere says pressure and scrutiny are part and parcel of being a young footballer - and you just have to handle it.
The England midfielder is only 22 but he's already closing on 150 games for Arsenal after making his debut at the age of 16. Wilshere is no stranger to international football either, winning his 22nd cap against Switzerland this week.
Hype has surrounded Wilshere since his breakthrough season in 2010/11 - when he played 49 times and turned heads with a stellar display against Barcelona. Injuries have held him back since then but those expectations remain sky–high, and it's something Wilshere accepts.
"We play in a world where it is the highest level," he told Arsenal Player. "Social media, the press and everyone watches your game.
"I owe a lot to the boss and I've learnt so much since I was 18 that it's scary."
"I'm sure if you ask any young player, they wouldn't change it. That's the way we want it to be. It's something you have to deal with. You've seen players in the past, like Theo [Walcott], who have just got on with it. He's never let it get to his head. He's just himself and that's what I think you have to do. You have to keep your head down and focus.
"The game is getting faster and faster, so if anything it's getting tougher and tougher," Wilshere added. "The young players have to come in and train every day. After that, they will go to school and then back to digs. Some of them are away from their families, which is quite tough.
"I can remember when I was doing it and for the first three or four months, it was tough. You were in bed by eight o'clock and then you'd have to go again the next day and have the will to try and improve every day. It's tough."
According to Wilshere, you need the right people around you to deal with the pressure - and that includes your manager and team-mates.
"I think the main thing is that you have to remember that you're never going to do anything on your own," he said. "You always need your team-mates with you.
"I remember when I broke into the team, we had a great side. Fabregas was the captain and he was fantastic. He'd been in that position. He'd come in as a 16-year-old and played. That season that I broke in [to the team], they were fantastic to me. Whenever I went in for a tackle and there was a little bust up, they were always around me, sticking up for me. Off the pitch they were always giving me advice too. I think the main thing off the pitch is having a good bunch of team-mates and really working with them.
"I remember when I broke into the team, we had a great side"
"The boss was clever - he put me in for some games but left me out and made me miss some games. He put me in for the Carling Cup and I remember thinking 'this is the real thing'. I was playing in front of 60,000 fans against proper teams, proper men. I was only 16 and all I wanted to do was play.
"I owe a lot to the boss and I've learnt so much since I was 18 that it's scary. I'm only 22 now but it feels like I've been playing for years."
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