London [UK], July 12 (ANI): Arsenal FC on Monday announced the appointment of Jack Wilshere and Mehmet Ali as the head coaches of the club’s Under-18 and Under-21 sides respectively.
Mehmet joined the side as its Under-23s assistant coach back in January, and after six months, he will take over the role of head coach of the Under-21 side.
Max Porter will join Mehmet’s team as the Under-21s assistant coach, following his promotion where he was previously the assistant coach of the Under-18 side. Max has been a part of the game for years, making over 300 appearances with clubs including Barnet, Rushden and Diamonds, Newport County and Chelmsford City. Max joined Arsenal in 2019 and took up a full-time coaching role.
Jack is a former Arsenal academy graduate who made 197 appearances for Arsenal between 2008 and 2018. He won the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015 and the FA Youth Cup in 2009 with the club. He will take his first role in coaching with the club.
Adam Birchall will join Jack as the Under-18s assistant coach alongside his new role as Under-17s Head Coach. He moves on from his previous position as Arsenal’s Under-16s Head Coach. He developed through the club’s academy as a player before joining Mansfield Town in 2005.
Adam’s playing career spanned 11 years in which he made 300 appearances at clubs including Mansfield Town, Barnet, Dover Athletic and Gillingham. He also represented Wales Under-21 side in 12 games. In 2016 Adam re-joined Arsenal as a coach.
Talking about his new role, Mehmet said: “It is a great honour and privilege to be a part of this club and lead our Under-21s. I have already had six good months at the club, so I have got a sound understanding of the players. I am now really excited and looking forward to continuing working with the group and playing my part in developing strong young Gunners.”
Jack, having spent some time back at London Colney last season working with our young players said in a statement as per the club’s official site: “It is a huge honour to have this role. It is no secret that I love this club. I love what we stand for and a big part of my life was spent in this academy, some of the best days of my life. This is a big opportunity for me and I am ready. I am hungry and cannot wait to help these young players thrive and be the best they can be on and off the pitch.”
“It is a special feeling to be part of the Arsenal family. It never left me, and even though I moved on for a few years, my heart was always still at Arsenal. I cannot wait to get started and help these young players thrive with a great team around me,” he added.
Academy manager Per Mertesacker also said: “This is great news for everyone involved in our academy. We have made a number of really positive changes in the last few weeks and I believe that we have the best possible people here to build on the progress that we’ve made in recent years.”
“Everyone knows how passionate Jack is about Arsenal. He understands what we want to achieve here and he really impressed us last year. He knows exactly what it takes to progress through the academy into first-team football. Mehmet also really impressed us in the last six months and we knew that he was the right person to take on the Under-21s role,” he added.
Luke Hobbs, the head of academy coaching said, “Myself and Per had every confidence that Mehmet was able to step in and be our Under-21 Head Coach. His connection with the staff at Colney, his relationship with the players and his attention to detail on the grass has been second to none.”
“With Jack, we have got somebody who is really enthused to be a coach. Jack has so many great qualities and will also bring his depth of knowledge and high-quality experience in terms of what it takes to be an academy player and transition to play in our first-team,” he added. (ANI)