It is a rare week in English football that glimpses the outline of a world-class talent on the distant horizon while the most recent example of the breed crosses the Atlantic to undergo rehabilitation in what is now a life-or-death struggle with alcohol.
After his outstanding contribution to England's rare victory over Brazil in Wednesday's friendly at Wembley, Jack Wilshere is already being hailed as another Paul Gascoigne. Surely Wilshere will not be that unlucky. He may be blessed with Gascoigne's talent but nobody would want to burden him with the latter's torment.
For once the pre-match optimism amounted to something more than routine thumbs-uppery. Steven Gerrard predicted that Wilshere had world-class possibilities and the 21-year-old Arsenal midfielder proved him right.
To be able to run an international match at that age requires exceptional natural ability. To see an England player doing so against Brazil would have stretched the bounds of probability before Wednesday's game. Then again the idea of Brazil fielding a goalkeeper from Queens Park Rangers with an attack led by a man called Fred would have prompted a few giggles not so long ago.
England's win needs to be kept in perspective. While it was something more than a triumph of enthusiasm over ennui, and Brazil certainly did not want to lose and played with increased energy after half-time, Roy Hodgson's team can expect more committed opposition should they encounter Luiz Felipe Scolari's side on Brazilian soil in next summer's World Cup.
By then Hodgson should have a better idea of how well Wilshere's promise is likely to be fulfilled. That is always assuming England qualify.
The problem with becoming a world-class footballer is that the level can only be achieved in world-class circumstances which, with all due respect to the Champions League, means appearing in international tournaments proper on a regular basis. George Best was world class but was never able to offer a practical demonstration for Northern Ireland in anything but qualifiers. Gareth Bale will probably suffer a similar fate with Wales.
Before 1966, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Gordon Banks were recognised as outstanding players but it was only after England won the World Cup that they came to be regarded as leading footballers on the global stage. And in 1970 Pelé greeted Moore as an equal.
Gascoigne remains the last England player worthy of the world-class accolade because of his performances in Italia 90, when Bobby Robson's side reached the semi-finals. Gary Lineker runs him close but Gazza was the catalyst that transformed England after an indifferent start. Earlier that year a goal from Lineker had been enough to beat an indifferent Brazil team at Wembley, so maybe history can be repeated through Wilshere and Wayne Rooney.
Just so long as Wilshere remembers not to burst into tears. Gascoigne's lachrymosity, when a booking in the 1990 semi-final against West Germany meant he would miss the final if England got there, spawned Gazzamania and the rabid media attention that dogged his playing career. Fortunately, Wilshere does not look the crying type.
For some it may seem strange, perverse even, to discuss England's world-class players without mentioning David Beckham, surely a master of the universe in football boots. Yes Beckham has been a very good and at times outstanding talent but he is essentially a world-class commercial product expertly marketed. He was and continues to be at his best when the ball is stationary and his gifted right foot can bend it to his will.
Had Gascoigne shared Beckham's abstinence and made similar career choices both player and team might have prospered way beyond the brief period of optimism the country enjoyed in 1990. Guided by Arsène Wenger at Arsenal and Hodgson with England, Wilshere should turn out to be something more than another bright spring followed by a wet summer.
Yet even now providence should not be tempted. England are still a long way off qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and the performances levels in last summer's European Championship were only encouraging in that they were an improvement on the debacle of South Africa two years earlier.
On Wednesday Hodgson's side passed the ball imaginatively and gave it away less than usual, although the defence was dodgy and lucky that Neymar decided to take the night off. But at least England looked like a work in progress and that in itself is progress of a sort.