Former Arsenal striker Francis Jeffers gave a very stark insight into how his once promising career diminished into disappointment, confirming he still has a lot of regrets at how it played out.
Now 33, Jeffers was the first strike partner for Wayne Rooney, who is looking to win his 100th England cap against Slovenia, and for Jeffers it’s a story of what could have been.
Jeffers made his debut for Everton in 1997, aged just 16, and was at Arsenal when Rooney, who was 38 days younger than him when he made his debut, broke on to the scene.
For Jeffers, however, the move to Arsenal was the beginning of the end of what could have been an illustrious career.
At Everton, where he built his reputation, Jeffers rejected numerous contract offers and ultimately forced Everton’s hand in accepting the £8million bid to allow the player to join title-chasing Arsenal in 2001.
In all competitions, the striker labelled as the ‘fox in the box’ accumulated just eight goals in 40 appearances in his time in North London and went on to play out the rest of his contract in disappointing loan spells.
On his time at Arsenal, Jeffers told the independent: "I was out, parting, living life – tossing it off in training because I wouldn’t play on Saturday anyway.
"Now I look back with a lot of regrets. That is where I should have been putting it in more.
"Arsene Wenger gave me a fair crack of the whip. I haven’t got a bad word to say about him.
"He tells you how it is, one of the only managers I played for who did.’
Despite his frustrations of not reaching his full potential, he doesn’t agree with the critics who have accused him of throwing away all his talent.
"I am not saying I threw it all away because I had a decent career," he added.
"I fulfilled a lot of ambitions but I always say it, I know how much ability I had. I’m not soft. I know how good a player I was. One [England] cap wasn’t enough."
Jeffers is currently without a club and not in football despite not officially announcing his retirement. Late last year, after being released by Accrington Stanley, the former England striker spent time on trial with both Bury and Brunei DPMM FC but failed to win a deal with either club.
He still remains England Under-21s joint-top goalscorer with 13 goals, a record he shares with Alan Shearer who, of course, went on to become the highest scoring player in the history of the Premier League.