After half a season working with the Arsenal academy and the other half playing in Denmark, Jack Wilshere has drawn a lot of positives from the last year.
As part of a STATSports event last week, Daily Cannon had the chance to talk to Jack Wilshere about his time with the Arsenal academy and his recent spell in Denmark.
Starting with the academy spell, Wilshere explained that it was even more rewarding than he was expecting.
“I’ve loved every minute of it, to be honest,” Wilshere told Daily Cannon. “I didn’t quite know how I’d like it. I always thought that coaching was something I wanted to do, I’ve done my badges.
“But I never really thought about it too much because you don’t have time when you’re playing all the time. And then obviously I was without a club and Arsenal invited me back to train and I started some coaching.
“And from the first day of coaching I knew that it’s something that I want to pursue, get better at, and learn. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Coaching is obviously not straightforward for Wilshere right now, as he hopes to continue his playing career. So he admitted it’s not something he necessarily plans to jump back into immediately next season.
“It sort of depends, because it is quite difficult while you’re playing, to coach,” he said.
“I mean you can obviously watch football and learn from it on that side of things but to actually get out on the pitch and coach is quite difficult.
“But I will try as much as I can, depending on where I am, and who I’m playing for.”
For the last few months, Wilshere has been playing for Danish side Aarhus GF. The 30-year-old says it was a smooth enough transition for his first spell playing abroad.
“I think what helped me was that I was training at Arsenal before, so I adapted pretty quickly to training.
“I always knew that it was going to take five or six games before I started to feel good, started to have an influence on games. But to be honest with you, it was pretty smooth.
“They were good there, the staff were good, I had an open relationship with them where I could tell them how I feel, they could tell me if they wanted me to do more, if they wanted to push me or relax. And yeah, it went good.
“Especially towards the end I felt really good actually, and like I could make a difference in games. In training, I felt sharp. So I know that now I have a little break and we’ll see what happens but I know that I can get to that level.”
It’s still not hugely common for English players to go and ply their trade abroad, but Wilshere says there were no issues adapting to the culture.
“The mindset was amazing from the players. There were no egos, everyone worked hard every single day in training. There were no problems, even when you’re losing games.
“When you’re in a club and you lose five or six games – I’ve been at clubs where that’s happened – things can turn a little bit nasty. Players start saying things to each other, they start pointing the finger. There was none of that.
“It was actually quite unique, in terms of the togetherness and how players stuck together. And then culturally, it was sort of ‘it is what it is’. You go there, everyone works hard, that’s what it is. If you don’t work hard then you’re not going to fit in.
“You sort of know that straight away and you have to buy into that. Everyone was good people, everyone spoke English, so it was really easy transitioning on that side of things.”
As for a possible return again next season, Wilshere says it’s not something they’ve had time to discuss, but he’s open to the possibility.
“You know what, because of what happened towards the end of the season, in terms of we survived on the last day, there wasn’t really much time to have those conversations.
“There was a lot of stress around the thought of relegation. I think everyone at the end of the season just needed to take a breath, and have a few days before those conversations start.
“Obviously, the manager got sacked, there’s a new coach that’s going to be going in there.
“And I would (go back), if the coach wants me, and I get to speak to him, then as I said before I really liked the place, I liked the city, I like the club. But we’ll see.”
One thing Wilshere did stress was that the Danish league could provide great opportunities to other young players in England.
“100%,” Wilshere insisted. “I’m not going to lie, before I went to Denmark, I didn’t know anything about the league, I was probably quite arrogant.
“It was something that I actually had conversations about when I was over there. You know, this is a good place where young English players could come on loan for a year.
“It was a good standard. You know what it was? Every single game, because of that attitude I said about ‘you need to work hard’, that brought intensity.
“So every game was intense, and it was hard, and you had to be at it. We played in some big games, Brondby, with 30,000 fans, we used to get 15,000 at home.
“So in terms of that side of things, for a young player, it’s really good, because then they’ve got a good training ground.
“You know, a lot of young English players go down to League One and League Two, but I would definitely, 100% recommend going over to Denmark and trying something over there rather than dropping down the leagues here.
“If you drop down the leagues here, yeah there is a place for that, but it can be hard as well. And then it can almost eat a young player up because it’s that hard physically, when things don’t go well, they end up on the bench.
“Then they’re in League Two, they’re on the bench, they’re thinking ‘what is going on here?’
“Whereas if you go over there, there’s a little bit more football being played. You play against good teams who play decent football.
“And another thing, for a young player out of their comfort zone, living away from England, I think it helps you grow up.”
It’s certainly true that some of Arsenal’s young players have struggled on loan in the lower leagues.
As Wilshere points out, they often find the jump in intensity and physicality difficult, which quickly leads to their managers dropping them and moving on.
There are always other paths available to youngsters at a top club like Arsenal, and perhaps a year out in Denmark could be a good one.
To find out more about the STATSports Arsenal FC Edition, visit www.statsports.com/arsenal