Jack Wilshere has admitted that he feels a certain level of responsibility over the younger members of the Arsenal squad, such as Alex Iwobi.
The 24-year-old revealed that although he feels that some of the youngsters are a little ‘shy’ when it comes to asking for advice, he’s ready and willing to help when he can.
“Sometimes it’s hard for them to ask because they might be a little bit shy,” he said to Arsenal’s podcast.
“They don’t really ask you but you feel as though you have a responsibility because you’re there, you’ve been there and you know what they’ve been through.
“They’re coming into a dressing room with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis who are big players, so that can be scary for a young player but Alex is a good kid off the pitch. He wants to learn, he’s got the right attitude, puts in the right work in training and when he gets game time he has shown the fans what he can do.
“I don’t like to call it mentoring because Alex is 19 so he’s not a kid, but I know what it’s like for him because I’ve been there. You almost feel a little bit of responsibility, not to mentor him, but to steer him in the right direction.
“When I first came in, players like Cesc and Samir Nasri were great with me. They put their arm around me and told me how to act. If I didn’t play then I would be upset, but they would tell me that I was young and that I would play in the end. I look back to then and, if I can be like they were for Alex, then I will do that.
“There are a few I have been impressed with in the youth team but Alex is leading the way now. It’s probably six or seven years since I made the step and, apart from me, nobody has come up from the under-9s to make it into the first team. You’re seeing now that another one has done it and that will give the young lads confidence.”
Having members of the squad like Jack who have not only experienced football at a club level but also represented their countries on the big stage can be hugely helpful for younger players hoping to do the same.
Jack in particular has also had to deal with his personal life being splashed across the tabloids and endured months of serious injuries. Therefore, the advice he can probably offer on how to deal with the pressure and mental aspect of the game will be useful.
It’s comforting to know that the older players feel protective over the youngsters and want to see them do well.