Jack Wilshere interview: ‘I still have a big burning desire in me to be successful in the game’

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 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Injuries robbed Jack Wilshere of the chance to fulfil his talent as a player, but that pain is now fuelling his desire to make it to the top as a coach.

Still only 30, Wilshere has not completely closed the door on playing again, after a four-month spell with Danish club Aarhus. The former England, Arsenal and West Ham midfielder will consider offers this summer, but any move would have to be right one — and it is clear he already has one eye on the future.

After a spell coaching in the Arsenal academy last year, Wilshere is close to completing his UEFA A Licence and is also on the International Player to Coach programme, an initiative set up by the FA to support current and former England internationals on their path.

Coaching has ignited a fire within Wilshere and his passion for the game feels restored by the prospect of what is to come.

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“I didn’t ever reach my full potential as a player — and everyone knows that,” says Wilshere. “I don’t think I will ever accept it until I’ve reached that as a coach. It’s a difficult thing to accept and that’s why I still have a big, burning desire in me to be successful in the game.

“I just feel like there’s something still in me that wants to get to a high level. And that probably won’t ever be as a player again. So if I can do that as a coach, why not?”

Wilshere’s time in Denmark was rewarding but tough. Aarhus avoided relegation but he was not on the winning side in any of the 14 matches he played in after joining in February.

“The place was amazing,” he says. “When I was in Denmark, I spent a lot of time on my own, and you start thinking about things.

“I’m sat there and trying to learn as much and develop myself off the field as a coach. Then you start thinking about your reasons why you want to be a coach.”

When he was playing at Arsenal, few would have predicted Wilshere would be going down this road.

It was always a question of when, not if, his team-mate Mikel Arteta would be a manager, with the Spaniard known for policing the dressing room.

Wilshere, in contrast, was in his own words “the naughty one”, largely due to his cheeky personality. But now, after all he has been through, the midfielder insists he is a different person.

I still have a big burning desire in me to be successful in the game.

“I was the naughty one and he (Arteta) was the teacher’s pet,” smiles Wilshere. “When I was back at Arsenal [coaching recently], Manuel Almunia was there. I went over to him when he was talking to Mikel and we were chatting. He said to me, ‘Are you the same Jack?’ Mikel said, ‘No, he’s not. He’s the complete opposite’.”

Arteta has inspired Wilshere, who has spoken to other young coaches, including Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, for advice. Rooney, who has always been a close friend, has done a fine job in challenging circumstances at crisis club Derby. He might not have been tipped to become a coach after his playing days either, but Wilshere believes the former England captain is a good example of how he can change the way he is perceived.

“That’s not really something that worries me,” he says. “Without throwing him under the bus, look at Wazza. I was close with Wayne and I could always see that he had it in him to be a manager, whereas ask the general public and they would probably say ‘no’.”

Right now, the image Wilshere is projecting is of someone driven and hungry to succeed. He still has the itch to play, but it no longer feels like it is all consuming and he speaks like a man with a plan.

“I have still got that bug, but I have said it so many times: it has to be right,” he says.

“Obviously, when you are a player and you are trying to work every day, you are trying to improve, but my goal is not to go to a club and then go to Real Madrid or go back to Arsenal.

“I want to go somewhere and enjoy it — and learn, learn maybe a different culture, and that’ll help me going forward with my coaching as well.”

If he does retire, Wilshere would love to return to Arsenal and coach. He relished his first steps in coaching there, learning how to develop sessions based around data from STATSports — something he wishes he had as a player.

“You can be as good at football as you want technically,” he says. “But now you also have the facts there, the numbers. I would have loved it.”

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Wilshere is well aware he has a long way to go but he is ready for the challenge. In fact, he is excited by the hard work ahead.

“I’d love to sit here and say I want to be England manager, I want to beArsenal manager,” he says. “But I am not stupid enough to think that just happens. You have to go and start somewhere, learn your trade, build yourself up.

“I’ve got a big desire to coach and become successful at that. You look at the managers who have been successful in the last five or six years, they started young, so I just think, why not?”

Who knows, perhaps one day the “naughty one” can emulate the ‘Special One’?

To find out more about the STATSports Arsenal FC Edition, visit www.statsports.com/arsenal

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