Benik Afobe has spoken about his long-term friendship with Jack Wilshere but has insisted that he had nothing to do with the midfielder’s decision to join Bournemouth on a season-long loan.
The Cherries’ striker, who has been firm friends with Wilshere since their time in the Arsenal academy together and is Godfather to the England international’s kids, explained what the 24-year-old was like as a youngster. He also revealed how Wilshere’s first training session with his temporary team went and insisted that he didn’t have any say in his final decision to move, although him being there could be a factor.
“I remember when I first met Jack at Arsenal training, he was wearing number 11, had bright blonde hair and was this goofy little boy! I used to play up a year and we became good friends,” Afobe told the Bournemouth Echo.
“He’s always been a team player so he is going to be good to have around the camp. Even in training today, you could tell the class and ability he has and now he just has to prove that every week.
“I think he’s world-class and I’m not just saying that because he’s one of my best friends. He’s up there with the top three I’ve played alongside.”
He continued, “I was in the cinema watching Brotherhood and Jack told me to call him when I got out.
“I rung him afterwards and he asked me what Bournemouth was like and said he was interested in coming on loan for the season.
“He was interested from the get-go. The influence of me telling him about the club, the manager and the boys played a big part but in himself he was really interested.
“I know for a fact he has made the decision for his career. He knows it will benefit him being here. It’s nothing to do with me being here, it’s a football reason, for sure.
“He told me he liked Eddie Howe because he felt he could improve him. He knows he’s not the finished article.”
I’m sure, as Afobe says, although moving to be with his pal wasn’t the main reason behind Wilshere’s move, it probably did help sway him, which is fine. It’s a brave decision and one that could really help Jack’s career if he can get regular playing time. Him being comfortable at his new club is most likely a big factor in how well he settles in and if Afobe helps that, what’s the problem?
“At 24 and with the injuries he’s had, he knows he’s got a long way to reach his full potential.
“Jack will come here and want to prove a lot of people wrong and a lot of people right. I know he’s going to get his head down and work hard.”
Look after him, Bournemouth. You got a fantastic player on your hands.