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Bjornebye exclusive: AGF held coaching talks with Wilshere - then Arsenal made their offer

AGF sporting director Stig Inge Bjornebye says he could see Jack Wilshere preparing himself for a coaching career during his time with the Danes.

Wilshere has enjoyed an impressive first year of coaching after returning to Arsenal to take charge of the U18s.

He has overseen the Gunners' run to the FA Youth Cup final, where they were beaten by West Ham United, and also helped bring through the likes of Ethan Nwaneri, Lino Sousa and Reuell Walters who have all been involved in the first team this season.

AGF marked the final club of Wilshere's playing career and his six months in 2022 are still being felt today, says Bjornebye.

The Norwegian told "When you have a player of Jack Wilshere's experience, it's not automatic that you will gain from that experience (as a team).

"It's down to the player, himself, how he shares and communicates that experience. And how he sets the standards which he has played to through his career.

"Jack Wilshere was really humble and willing to share his experience and set the standards he was used to as a player.

"For the dressing room and the entire club it was a very interesting experience and a respectful time he had with us. I am very grateful to Jack, as he was willing to share and willing to help with what he had to offer us.

"It was a fantastic relationship that we built up."

With AGF, Wilshere spent the second-half of the 2021/22 season before coming off contract in June. A month later he was announcing his playing retirement at 30 years of age before Per Mertesacker, Arsenal's academy director, made his move. Wilshere was named Arsenal U18 coach four days after hanging up his boots.

Bjornebye continued: "The plan was always centred on what we knew of Jack. We knew if he was the person that we thought he was, then it could only be beneficial for the team. Not only on the pitch, but also in the dressing room, with the culture.

"But he was injured, so it was a very difficult time for the club."

Significantly, former Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers fullback Bjornebye also revealed: "Oh, yes, he was very interested in coaching.

"He took an interest in our academy and took an interest in our coaching situation when David Nielsen left.

"We had serious discussions about fitting him in with a coaching role, but then the Arsenal thing came up. He wanted to take that - which was understandable."

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