Jack Wilshere says he feels a responsibility to help Alex Iwobi with his adaption to first-team football.
Iwobi is the latest player to have made the step up from the academy, making six appearances for Arsenal and winning two Nigeria caps during a breakthrough season.
The 19-year-old’s performances were rewarded with a permanent place in the first-team dressing room, where he sits next to Danny Welbeck and Francis Coquelin, but Wilshere says he is never far away to offer the teenager advice.
“Sometimes it’s hard for them to ask because they might be a little bit shy,” he told the Arsenal Weekly 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.”
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